Wednesday, August 04, 2004

A narrow escape?

While political news in Brazil being dominated by the Central Bank's president being charged over tax evasion, it's likely the tale of Governor Flamarion Portela of the northern state of Roraima may be overlooked.

Yesterday the electoral court voted to annul his mandate as governor, deciding he had committed 'economic crimes' in his re-election campaign two years ago. According to reports, these involved the use of social services to improve his election result between the first and second round votes, a month apart. These included support to agricultural and low-paid workers within this period and the use of fraud to help with these payments, which by all accounts seems rather blatant in retrospect.

No doubt there will be some relief, but embarrassment among the governing Workers Party (PT). Flamarion was elected on the Social Liberal Party (PSL) ticket, a small party whose website doesn't really say tell you much about its origins or what it stands for. Months after being re-elected, Flamarion joined the PT. He left the party (apparently voluntarily) in December 2003 after internal pressure within the party was brought upon its president, Jose Genoino.

While there will be a sigh of relief for those in the government, it does beg the question of how someone like Flamarion managed to get accepted in the party. And no doubt high-ranking party members will hope that the Flamarion case will not be linked by voters with the party in the elections in October.

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