Political “stir-up” in Brazilian North East


It isn’t easy to write about the politics of North East Brazil, but following elections in October 2012 I just thought that it would make sense to touch this topic and explain some of the issues.

While elections in big cities in the South of Brazil (São Paulo, Curitiba, Porto Alegre, etc.) more or less follow European democratic standards, North Eastern Brazil is still influenced by heritage of so-called coronelism. Many smaller towns are controlled by influential groups of local politicians and vote buying is not uncommon.

I‘m not saying that there isn’t any progress. There are towns where you can see significant improvements in education, health care or agriculture during the last few years. This happened especially in places where people from poorer families got to power and ended the command of influential groups.

But it could have been done much more if the corruption and nepotism didn’t hinder all process. Many people don’t even know the political program of the party they are voting for. They just vote for some candidate hoping to gain personal benefits (job, land, etc.). Some candidates for mayor and MPs base their campaign on hatred against the political rival instead of using logical arguments and suggestions.

In many cases politics divides friends or even members of families. People are discussing and commenting various issues. Candidates organize rallies and marches through the towns or villages. It’s very important for people to show their political identity. There are posters of candidates on each house so that everyone knows who they are supporting. The public post are given to the supporters and family members of governing parties. Although this is sometimes common even in developed countries, here in Brazil these people often just receive salaries with little or no work.

So, what’s the solution? Is there any way forward? I think there is. The progress will be slow but I believe it gets better with improvements in educational system. In the past, the people-analphabets were controlled by politicians much easier. Hopefully young people can start to understand that through learning new things they can influence their own future, instead of asking the politicians. It’s very important that they become independent, working and earning their own salaries.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Rosalba Brandim Howson

    Hi Martin

    I am very familiar with the situation that you are describing. People often think that it doesn’t really matter who they vote for because nothing will change anyway – so they sell their vote thinking that they may as well get something from the politicians that are going to line their pockets once in power.

  2. margaret

    I wonder if the church organisations in Cristino could do more to support and give leadership in reforming the political culture.

  3. martin

    If the churches involve in the politics, it would bring complications to them. They don’t want to lose people. If they start to talk about politics, people would think that they are supporting the political party.

  4. Dave and Xila

    Doesn’t his sounds all too familiar – “People often think that it doesn’t really matter who they vote for because nothing will change anyway ” or there is no difference in the parties so why bother ?. The main two differences may be that here in the UK payment (bribes) are more subtle (tax cuts just before an election, incentives to the middle classes and middle England etc etc) and that in the UK we have the choice whether to turn up and vote whereas in Brasil it is compulsory to vote with draconian penalties.

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