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President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva unveiled his platform for re-election on Tuesday, promising to stimulate growth by increasing investment in the economy and introducing a higher national minimum wage.
Aside from the pledges to lift investment in the economy to more than 25 per cent from 21 per cent, and to increase the minimum wage by more than the rate of inflation, the programme for government in 2007-2010 was short on concrete targets and proposals, however.
Briefing journalists before unveiling the programme on Tuesday, Ricardo Berzoini, president of Mr Lula da Silva’s centre-left PT, said a second Lula government would “continue with the process of change” in place since January 2003.
The president’s campaign managers stressed the difference between their proposals and those of Geraldo Alckmin of the centrist PSDB, Mr Lula da Silva’s main challenger for the presidency.
But neither candidate has presented much of substance to differentiate their proposals. Indeed, Mr Alckmin has yet to present voters with his own programme for government, although he has promised to deliver a “management shock” and to build on his record as governor of São Paulo state in cutting public spending and promoting investment.
The Lula administration has broadly maintained the policies of its PSDB predecessor, using high interest rates to control inflation, maintaining primary budget surpluses (before interest payments) to reduce the ratio of public debt to gross domestic product, and extending income transfer programmes to help the poor.
Inflation expectations have fallen to well within the government’s target of 4.5 per cent for this year, while global growth led by China and India has boosted demand for Brazilian exports, helping to turn current account deficits into healthy surpluses. While unemployment remains high at about 10 per cent, job creation, low inflation and moderate growth have produced broad satisfaction with the economy, boosting Mr Lula da Silva’s chances of re-election at the first round of voting on October 1.
An opinion poll published on Tuesday confirmed Mr Lula da Silva’s commanding lead in the campaign. The poll by Sensus, a market research company, gave the president 51.4 per cent of the vote compared to 19.6 per cent for Mr Alckmin, increasing the president’s lead by 3.6 percentage points from the previous poll conducted at the beginning of August.