President Dilma Rousseff won a runoff election held in late October with 51.6 percent, after failing to win an outright majority at a first-round of voting earlier in the month. The PT-led coalition retained its majorities in both congressional chambers at legislative elections held simultaneously with the first round of presidential voting. And the trimming of the number of parties in the governing alliance from 17 to just nine may facilitate the process of steering legislation through the Congress.

However, the PT and its main partner, the PMDB, suffered a net loss of 18 seats and 13 seats, respectively, while the PSD confirmed its status as a major player in the legislature, winning 37 seats in the lower house in its first national election. Rousseff will likely need to bargain for the PSD’s support, without which her coalition would come dangerously close to losing its lower-house majority.

The president faces numerous daunting challenges as she prepares for her second term, which will officially begin in January. The economy fell into recession earlier this year, and efforts to stimulate a recovery will be impeded by high inflation, which has prompted the central bank to tighten monetary policy, and limits the scope for using fiscal tools to stimulate growth. The president’s political difficulties have been compounded by a damaging corruption scandal at Petrobras, the state-owned energy giant.

Moves by the government to restore fiscal discipline will have a dampening effect on economic activity.

Rousseff has won plaudits for taking a strong stand against corruption in her administration, which should help to minimize any direct damage from the Petrobras scandal. However, there is a risk that the issue could become a distraction from the more important task of reassuring the investors whose confidence will be crucial to fueling an economic recovery.

The markets are waiting for signals of how the president intends to address the dual problems of slow growth and high inflation. In that regard, the appointment of Joaquim Levy to replace Guido Mantega as finance minister is a clear step in the right direction. A former treasury head who more recently worked as head of assets management at Banco Bradesco, Levy has pledged to produce a primary surplus equivalent to 1.2 percent of GDP next year, a figure that will increase to 2 percent of GDP in 2016–2017.

Moves by the government to restore fiscal discipline will have a dampening effect on economic activity in the near term, meaning that any significant improvement on the weak growth performance in 2014 will depend on a more favorable climate for exports. With the outlook for a revival of European demand clouded by the economic fallout of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and slowing growth in China, the Brazilian economy will continue to struggle next year, and real GDP growth is forecast to accelerate only moderately to 1 percent–1.5 percent.


The PRS Group
About The Author The PRS Group
The PRS Group is a leading global provider of political and country risk analysis and forecasts, covering 140 countries. Based on proprietary, quantitative risk models, the firm's clientele includes financial institutions, multilateral agencies, and trans-national firms.

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