5 October 2018   Leave a comment

Brazil will hold its national election on Sunday, but recent polls indicate that as many as 25% of the electorate remains undecided.  It is a hotly contested race with two front-runners:  Jair Bolsonaro who is a right-wing candidate who has expressed admiration for US President Donald Trump and  Fernando Haddad who is running for the party of  Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva, a popular left-wing former president who cannot run because of a corrruption conviction.  Although there is mush fire and fury in the current campaign, it is unlikely that the election will resolve the problems facing Brazil.  Vox describes the problems facing the country:

” Brazil was once seen as an up-and-coming developing country, with strong economic growth and a rising global profile. But in recent years, the economy has careened off course, in large part because corruption scandals have decimated the country’s most powerful companies, putting huge swaths of people out of work and weakening investor confidence.

“Nearly a third of Brazilians have struggled to buy food in the past year, and a quarter say they’ve had trouble affording adequate shelter, according to a recent Gallup poll. The unemployment rate is in the double digits, and some studies say extreme poverty has more than doubled since the mid-2010s.

“On top of this, Brazil is facing a serious security crisis. Murder rates are at an all-time high. The country’s biggest gang, Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC) is rapidly expanding as it battles with rivals over important drug routes. Once-vaunted public safety strategies have failed to contain the mayhem, but there’s little consensus on how — or whether — to change course.”

The two major candidates are in many respects polar opposites and it is difficult to conceive of a compromise position that could bridge the gap between the two.  Elections are supposed to resolve matters, not make them more complicated.   But the Pew Research Center found in October 2017 that only about 8% of Brazilians thought democracy was a “very good” system.

India has announced that it will buy the Russian S-400 Long Range Surface to Air Missile System, disregarding the US sanctions on economic transactions with Russia.  The proposed purchased violates the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) which was passed by the US.  It is an extraterritorial law–extending US national law to the conduct of other nations.  It is on the basis of this law that the US imposed sanctions on China for buying Russian military equipment, and is pressuring Turkey to not buy Russian arms.   India will likely ask for a waiver from the law, and whether the US grants it will be a real test of how committed the US is to Indian foreign policy

Posted October 5, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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