Search

 

Cablegate: Sao Paulo Psdb Leaders Seek More National Influence

VZCZCXRO7084
PP RUEHRG
DE RUEHSO #0943/01 3311746
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 271746Z NOV 07
FM AMCONSUL SAO PAULO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7706
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 8838
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 2960
RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 3200
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0610
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 2516
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ 3594
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 2219
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 8459
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 3896
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC 2971
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 SAO PAULO 000943

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/BSC, INR/IAA, INR/R/AA
STATE PASS USTR FOR KATE DUCKWORTH
NSC FOR TOMASULO
TREASURY FOR JHOEK
USDOC FOR 4332/ITA/MAC/WH/OLAC
USDOC ALSO FOR 3134/USFCS/OIO
DOL FOR ILAB
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
USAID FOR LAC/AA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR BR
SUBJECT: SAO PAULO PSDB LEADERS SEEK MORE NATIONAL INFLUENCE

REF: (A) SAO PAULO 882; (B) SAO PAULO 834

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) The new Sao Paulo state directorate of the Social
Democracy Party of Brazil (PSDB) is developing a strategy to
increase its influence at the national level and to impose party
discipline on candidates for elective office. As part of this
strategy, the PSDB is focusing on municipal elections in 2008 in
order to build a party machine capable of getting out the vote in
the 2010 national elections. The large population of Sao Paulo
State and the relative success of the PSDB in Sao Paulo and the rest
of southern Brazil must provide enough votes to overcome President
Lula's Workers' Party's (PT) huge advantage in the populous
Northeast for this strategy to work. This plan should make the PSDB
a more effective opposition party and improve its chances of
regaining the presidency in 2010. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Poloff and Political Assistant met with state PSDB
officials Rogelio Barchetti and Cesar Gontijo (please protect) on
November 14 to discuss internal party politics in the run-up to the
November 22-25 PSDB National Congress in Brasilia. Delegates to the
party's Sao Paulo State convention in early November chose Federal
Deputy Antonio Carlos Mendes Thame as the new PSDB state president
on a ticket that included Gontijo as secretary-general and
Barchetti, president of the Sao Paulo State Union of City Council
Members, as First Secretary. Gontijo and Barchetti, as city council
members from the interior of Sao Paulo State, both participated in a
2004 International Visitors' program on governance. (Note: Both
Gontijo and Barchetti are strong supporters of Sao Paulo Governor
Jose Serra and expect him to mount a successful campaign for
President in 2010.)

--------------------------------------------- ---
STATE PARTY LEADERS WANT MORE NATIONAL INFLUENCE
--------------------------------------------- ---

3. (SBU) The new PSDB Sao Paulo directorate has a plan to prepare
the party for the 2010 national and state elections, the officials
said. New PSDB State President Mendes Thame and his team are
putting in place a strategy to win as many municipal elections as
possible in 2008 so as to have a large political structure to
support the PSDB's candidates for key posts in 2010. According to
Gontijo, mayors are important elements in national elections because
they are closer to the voters and have considerable influence over
them. Therefore the party wants to have candidates in all cities,
and wants the local members of the party to support those
candidates. Gontijo is relying on "party fidelity" to convince the
party to have as many candidates as possible.

4. (SBU) According to Gontijo, PSDB votes in Sao Paulo - Brazil's
most populous state - could help offset Lula and the PT's popularity
in the Northeast and be the deciding factor in the 2010 Presidential
elections regardless of who runs from the PT. The PSDB currently
holds the mayor's office in 212 of Sao Paulo State's 645
municipalities, and has 1195 city council members "vereadores".
Increasing these numbers would give the PSDB greater political sway
over voters in the 2010 presidential elections. "Tucanos" - as PSDB
members are called, after their party's symbol, the toucan - also
run Sao Paulo, the world's fifth largest city with a population of
11 million and a budget of more than USD 10 billion, through Mayor
Gilberto Kassab of the Democratic Party (DEM), which is closely

SAO PAULO 00000943 002 OF 003


allied with the PSDB. (Note: Kassab was elected vice mayor in 2004
on a ticket with PSDB former Health Minister Jos Serra and
succeeded Serra when the latter resigned in March 2006 to run for
governor. In addition, most of Serra's PSDB team remains in key
position in city hall (see ref A). End Note.) In addition, it was
in Sao Paulo that PSDB former Governor Geraldo Alckmin scored his
best electoral performance in a losing struggle against President
Lula's re-election last year. (Note: Though the PT was founded in
Sao Paulo with a strong following among industrial workers, the
majority of Sao Paulo voters historically have strongly opposed the
PT. The exception was Lula's first election as president in 2002.
End Note.)

-----------------------------------
PARTY FIDELITY AND PARTY DISCIPLINE
-----------------------------------

5. (U) "Party fidelity" has been a major challenge to Brazilian
politics since the 1985 restoration of democracy. Politicians have
promiscuously "jumped" from one party to another without suffering
adverse consequences, and attempts to strengthen political parties
and eliminate small parties with no reason to exist have been
unavailing. All this appears to be changing as a result of an
October ruling of the Superior Electoral Tribunal (TSE), which
states that electoral mandates, even where individuals are elected
by majority vote and not by a proportional party vote, belong not to
the elected officials but to the party. Henceforth, there will be
consequences for officials who, elected under one party's banner,
subsequently switch to another party. These consequences include
the possibility of forfeiture of the elective office. Consequently,
a reduction of party-jumping among newly elected mayors, city
council members, and federal and state deputies is expected. The
PSDB is counting on the new rule to give the party hierarchy
increased leverage over its elected officials.

6. (SBU) As part of the Sao Paulo Tucanos' desire to instill party
discipline and improve the PSDB as an opposition voice to the PT
governing coalition, during the recent PSDB National Congress the
Sao Paulo Tucanos attempted to obtain seats on the DN and the
National Executive Committee commensurate with their state's
importance. While they did not succeed in increasing the overall
Sao Paulo composition of the DN and National Executive Committee,
they did succeed in placing like-minded party members on the two
committees. In fact, Gontijo and Barchetti were both placed on the
National Directorate (DN) and believe they will be able to create
the necessary environment for the PSDB to become a more effective
opposition party. Overall, the PSDB Congress successfully renewed
its DN for Congress as well as its political program, both key steps
for the PSDB in rationalizing its internal politics and becoming a
more effective political party.

------------------------------------------
AVOIDING REPETITION OF PAST EMBARRASSMENTS
------------------------------------------

7. (SBU) The PSDB picked Senator Sergio Guerra of Pernambuco as its
next national president, and several lesser leadership positions
went to Sao Paulo representatives such as Gontijo and Barchetti.
Gontijo highlighted a general dissatisfaction with the PSDB's
current national president, Senator Tasso Jereissati of Ceara. Many
Tucanos accuse Jereissati, who took over as party president in 2005,
of exercising no leadership. Worse, he is accused of sometimes
putting his own political interests ahead of his party's. During
the 2006 elections, for instance, Jereissati supported a Socialist,
Ciro Gomes, for Governor of Ceara instead of the PSDB's own
candidate.

SAO PAULO 00000943 003 OF 003

8. (SBU) Gontijo adds that Jereissati's case in Ceara was not the
only example of bad practices within the party. On a number of
occasions, PSDB elected officials supported candidacies from outside
the PSDB, often from the PSDB's main political opponent, the PT, or
from another party in President Lula's governing coalition. In
Bahia, the local PSDB helped to elect Governor Jacques Wagner, a PT
leader who served Lula as Minister for Political Coordination. The
agreement in Bahia was signed and implemented by the PSDB leader in
the Chamber of Deputies, Federal Deputy Jutahy Magalhaes Junior. In
Rio de Janeiro State, Federal Deputy Eduardo Paes, also a newly
established PSDB leader, worked to elect Sergio Cabral of the
Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) as governor. Paes
subsequently abandoned the PSDB and joined the PMDB in the hopes of
becoming that party's choice to run in 2008 for mayor of the City of
Rio de Janeiro.

9. (SBU) The PSDB Sao Paulo leaders want to avoid cases like these
in the future. Barchetti and Gontijo consider this sort of
free-lancing disastrous for the party and its image, and aim to have
all PSDB policies and candidacies decided by the National
Directorate. They also want to have a clear and concrete political
and governing program upon which the PSDB's candidates can run. As
Gontijo explained, future candidates need clear political guidance,
and the party needs to speak with a single voice on such polemical
themes as privatization and Bolsa Familia, the Lula administration's
welfare program for the poor that is hugely popular among its
recipients. Bolsa Familia, Gontijo said in passing, is a large
complicating factor in next year's municipal elections because the
PT has attracted new voters by softening the eligibility conditions
for what many see as Lula's signature initiative.

-------
COMMENT
-------

10. (SBU) The PSDB has disappointed many followers and earned the
scorn of some pundits (ref B) over its weak performance in providing
meaningful opposition to the Lula government. For example, during
the second round of the 2006 presidential elections, no one in the
PSDB defended the privatizations carried out by Fernando Henrique
Cardoso's (FHC) administration when Lula attacked them with populist
rhetoric. Another perennial PSDB problem is a public perception of
elitism, which makes it difficult for the party to attract voters
outside certain strongholds, and makes it especially difficult for
the party in the poor and populous Northeast. It is clear that the
party needs to transform itself in order to mount a serious
challenge to the PT and the governing coalition. However, whether
Barchetti and Gontijo will be able to implement some of their plans
and succeed in bringing order and discipline to the PSDB is still an
open question. End Comment.

11. (U) This cable was cleared by Embassy Brasilia.

WHITE

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Cyclone Gita: 70% Of Tonga Population Affected

The full scale of destruction is beginning to emerge from Tonga in the aftermath of the severe tropical cyclone Gita. Around 50,000 people, or almost 70% of the country’s population, have been affected, a third of whom are children. More>>

ALSO:

Gita: Samoas Clean Up After Being Swamped By Cyclone

Apia in the wake of Gita Photo: Rudy Bartley The clean up is continuing in the two Samoas after Tropical Cyclone Gita hit on Saturday morning. More>>

ALSO:


Grand Coalition : Germany's two main political parties set to govern under Angela Merkel.

The liberal-conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) negotiated through the night in a marathon final push to nail down an agreement. More>>


80 Passengers: Kiribati Ferry Disaster

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are working with the Government of Kiribati to support children, families and communities affected by the recent Butiraoi ferry disaster. More>>

ALSO:

Campbell On: the US demonising of Iran

Satan may not exist, but the Evil One has always been a handy tool for priests and politicians alike. Currently, Iran is the latest bogey conjured up by Washington to (a) justify its foreign policy interventions and (b) distract attention from its foreign policy failures. More

ALSO: