Brazilians based in London were voting this Sunday, 5th October in one of the most unpredictable presidential elections since the re-democratization of Brazil, 25 years ago.
The 15,967 voters registered in London gathered at the Brazilian Embassy and Consulate from morning to afternoon to choose their candidates in a moment that the country sees high inflation, slow economic growth and a sense of discontent grows among the Brazilian society.
Quesia Lima, who lives in London since 1994, is voting for the first time since moving here because she says she wants change.
“Brazil’s situation at the moment demands us to vote. We have to take action,” she says, adding that she is supporting the environmental activist Marina Silva (PSB). “Even though I have no plans to go back to Brazil, part of my family is there. Voting is an attempt to take the country out of the hands of corrupt politicians,” Lima states.
Over the past 12 years, Brazil has been under the rule of the Worker’s Party (PT), first with Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, elected in 2002, and later with Dilma Roussef, the incumbent president since 2010 who is seeking a second term.
The party’s main legacy is social changes. In 2014, for the first time, the UN removed Brazil from the World Hunger Map. According to a report by FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), the number of people that starve in Brazil has fallen 50 per cent in 10 years. A combination of public policies for income transfer to the poorest families, direct purchases for food procurement and technical training of small producers are considered key for the results Brazil achieved.
The country has also raised millions of people out of poverty between 2001 and 2012, reducing in 75% the number of people that lives with less than US$ 1 per day, according to the report.
Despite these improvements though, Brazilians are fed up with scandals involving the government and with poor public services. Massive protests that took millions of people to the streets last year encapsulates this discontent.
“We need a president that is going to tackle corruption. Just then we will have enough money to invest in education and in public health,” says Fabiano Farias, who lives in London since 2008 and has chosen the centre-right candidate Aécio Neves (PSDB).
“Education and health are the basis for a succesful country. There is nothing worse than a citizen unaware of their rights and of how to claim them”, reflects Celia Navarro, who lives in Wales since 2001 and has travelled to London to vote.
Polls suggest Roussef is in the front, with 44 per cent of the voting intention, followed by Neves, who has 26 per cent, and by Silva, who has now 24 per cent. The race is likely to have a second run on the 26th October and Neves and Silva compete for who is going to confront Roussef.
Whoever wins, the electorate message is clear: urgent reforms are needed.