Brazil: Serra seeks his vice, versa

Official government candidate for the forthcoming presidential elections, Jose Serra, seeks to woo the female vote by choosing his vice president from another party. Rita Camata has been known to criticise the government at every turn but with women making up 54% of the vote in Brazil, and trailing by 20 points in the polls, Serra will try anything for the privileged few to retain their positions.

Rita Camata has been a member of parliament in Brazil since 1986 and has been known for her social projects with poor women and disadvantaged children. A member of the PMDB party, she has criticised the government party PSDB (Social Democrats) and has frequently requested inquiries into the handling of accounts.

As President Fernando Henrique Cardoso ends his second term in office and cannot stand again, his party has put everything behind Jose Serra. However, he has been lagging far behind the charismatic and energetic Labour Party leader, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, currently leading the opinion polls with 40%.

The choice of a woman for vice-president seems to have helped Serra confirm himself in second place with 22%, just ahead of Anthony Garotinho, in third, who seems likely to follow suit and adopt Luiza Erundina (ex-Prefect of Sao Paulo) as his co-runner while fourth-placed Ciro Gomes appears to be interested in choosing a famous actress from Brazil’s soap operas, Patricia Pillar, to run for vice (president).

Under the government of Fernando Henrique Cardoso, the number of poor in Brazil, according to official figures, has risen from 47million in 1994 to 52 million in 2002. Cosmetic measures to woo certain sectors of the electorate should not pull the carpet from under the feet of Lula this time, provided that the people of Brazil have the courage to take their own destiny into their hands.