Wall Street Journal: Brazil Vote's Winners: Evangelicals
Candidates Courted Growing Bloc for Edge in Sunday Election Run-Off.
RIO DE JANEIRO—Brazilians will take to the polls Sunday to determine their next president, but already one big winner of this political season has emerged: evangelical Christians.
Former cabinet minister Dilma Rousseff is expected to win the run-off, with pollster Datafolha projecting a 56% to 44% spread against former São Paulo Gov. José Serra. The surprise is how much the final stretch of the campaign in this predominantly Catholic country was shaped by an increasingly powerful bloc of conservative Protestants.
Ever since Brazil returned to democracy in 1985, presidential elections have been dominated by economic concerns as the country lurched from crisis to crisis. Potentially explosive issues such as whether to legalize abortion and gay marriage were rarely on the front burner, though the nation of 190 million is often called the world's biggest Catholic country.
This time, a grass-roots campaign of sermons, Internet videos and DVDs distributed mainly by evangelical pastors thrust moral questions like abortion and gay marriage abruptly onto the political agenda and forced Ms. Rousseff and Mr. Serra to declare positions. Joined by some conservative Catholic bishops, the evangelicals mobilized at least partly in response to the government's approval last year of a broad social plan supported by Ms. Rousseff's party that included calling for greater gay rights and abortion rights.
In order to shore up support among religious conservatives, both Ms. Rousseff and her rival, Mr. Serra, added opposition to legal abortion to their campaign platforms. That meant a big move to the right for Ms. Rousseff, an ex-Marxist guerrilla who has supported legalizing abortion in the past. ...