Brazil: Where Next?
Brazil, the UK's most important trading partner in Latin America, has attracted plaudits in recent times for its economic performance under a 'fiscally responsible' leftist administration. But for many of Brazil's poor majority, the first presidential term of former union firebrand Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has brought disappointment. Inequality and poverty have proved stubborn; while violence has continued to preoccupy city dwellers In recent months, gang control of prisons in the southern city of Sao Paulo hit the headlines whilst Lula's Workers Party fell prey to the same kind of corruption scandals and horsetrading which they so excoriated in previous governing elites.
Lula seems to have escaped the direct fallout of the scandal over alleged bribery of opposition congressmen, and is generally expected to win a second term over rival Geraldo Alckmin. However, those who hoped back in 2002 that Lula would exercise a moderating influence over other left-wing presidents in the region will be watching to see whether Brazil can maintain the regional leadership role which it has long assumed as its right. Behind the scenes run-ins with Venezuela over Chávez's attempts at protagonism have been amplified by discord with Bolivia over the latter's so-called 'nationalisation' of gas, which significantly affects Brazil. Join us between first and second rounds of October's presidential election, to hear regional experts analyse political and economic prospects for Latin America's most populous nation.