By Kay B. Day
The country of Brazil is currently reeling from a scandal encircling President Dilma Rousseff and her party, Partido dos Trabalhadores (The Workers’ Party). The WP treasurer along with more than two dozen others has been charged with corruption.
A new political poll found that approximately 60 percent of those who responded want Rousseff impeached. Rouseff has seen approval for her leftist party rule drop to 10.8 percent.
The scandal is linked to allegations about political donations diverted from the Brazilian government-controlled firm Petrobras, an energy company pumping millions of barrels of oil and large sums of revenue. At least one magazine, The Economist, warned in 2011 about the risks of Petrobras’ largesse:
“[A] spendthrift and corrupt political system; an over-mighty state and over-protected domestic market; and neglect of the virtues of saving, investment and training.”
Former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso gave Reuters the impression his Brazilian Social Democracy Party wouldn’t push for impeachment—it “would be destructive to Brazil’s 30-year-old democracy.” Cardoso believes Rousseff is less accountable for the scandal than her fellow party member Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva who was president until 2011. Rousseff, however, served at the top level of da Silva’s administration.
Da Silva’s racist remark about “blue-eyed bankers” causing the global financial meltdown at the end of President George W. Bush’s term raised eyebrows even in leftist media sympathetic to his policies. Da Silva overlooked the role of government in creating opportunity for the crisis and he also overlooked the role of corruption figuring into toxic instruments. No public disclosure on the levels of fraud in the toxic instruments has been provided to the public in any country.
Voting is mandatory in Brazil where even people who hold dual citizenship and live abroad are penalized if they do not participate in elections. Penalties may include being prohibited from receiving pay for work in a government job, restrictions on passports, and being forced to pay a fine.
In the US, President Barack Obama recently introduced the issue of mandatory voting into the public debate. However, attempting to force individuals to vote would be a violation of Amendment 1 to the US Constitution. None of the countries where people are forced to vote are as wealthy as the United States.
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