BRAZIL

Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff winning the internet election battle

Incumbent president Dilma Rousseff seems to have the upper hand as social-media sites and alter-ego blogs dominate tactics of both parties

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 October, 2014, 10:19pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 October, 2014, 4:22am
AFP

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Dishing out advice to pop star Beyonce and chatting about reality TV, Dilma Rousseff's flippant online alter-ego is worlds apart from the Brazilian president's image as a stern task-master.

But with 300,000 Twitter followers and almost 1.6 million on Facebook, which is nearly as many as Barack Obama's official account, "Dilma Bolada" (Angry Dilma) is playing a real role in tomorrow's presidential run-off election in the world's seventh-largest economy.

Dilma Bolada - full title: "Queen of the Nation, Diva of the People and Sovereign of the Americas," or "Queen D" for short - was created in 2010 by young Rio de Janeiro native Jeferson Monteiro, who is now aged 24.

The satirical account rose to fame for painting the Brazilian president as a superficial, narcissistic diva who thinks she runs the world, which is a sharp contrast with the real Rousseff, a no-nonsense managerial type who was imprisoned in the 1970s for joining a guerrilla group fighting to overthrow Brazil's dictatorship.

Monteiro's creation shares her news with pop star Rihanna and German Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel, swaps Justin Bieber jokes with Barack Obama and has been known to issue decrees giving the day off to her followers, whom she calls "Dilmetes," a wink at the term "Neymarzetes" used for the Brazilian soccer star Neymar's swooning teen fans.

Monteiro, a self-professed supporter of the president's Workers' Party (PT), says he created the account out of admiration for Rousseff, then a candidate vying to become Brazil's first woman president.

The joke ended up "changing my life", said Monteiro, whom Rousseff invited to the presidential palace in Brasilia last year when she relaunched her own long-ignored Twitter account with an eye on her re-election campaign.

"Life without humour is too heavy," Rousseff tweeted at the time, sending out a picture of herself alongside Monteiro,

A year later, with Rousseff, 66, in a tight race against centre-right challenger Aecio Neves, the internet has a far more central role in the election than in 2010.

"From the 2010 campaign to today, there's an abrupt difference in the presence of politics online. Today if you look at the profile of any ordinary citizen, 13 out of 15 posts talk about politics," said Silvana Martinho, a sociologist at Nove de Julho University in Sao Paulo. The sprawling South American country of 200 million people has the second-most Twitter users in the world, and third-most Facebook users.

In a recent poll, 39 per cent of voters with internet access said they had been influenced in some way by social networks in the build-up to the elections.

Brazilians are divided between those loyal to the PT's revolutionary gains against poverty and those fed up with corruption scandals, poor public services and a recession.

In that context, Dilma Bolada has taken on a more serious tone, commenting on the campaign and criticising Aecio Neves - whom Monteiro satirises as "Aecio Never" in his posts.

Monteiro has posted pictures of himself taking smiling "Rousselfies", which are snapshots with the president, on Facebook and Instagram.

Newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo reported in July that he had been hired by the PT as a consultant, a claim the party denies.

Monteiro, meanwhile, alleged in a May post that he was approached by Neves' Social Democracy (PSDB) party about selling them the account. The PSDB did not answer questions about the claim.

Neves, 54, also has alter egos of his own in the final countdown. The most popular, AecioMonstrao, portrays him as a care-free womaniser with policy proposals like nationalising Cristiano Ronaldo, lengthening the weekend and installing air conditioning in the sky.

 


Rousseff set for Brazil poll run-off win over Aecio Neves

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has a clear lead over opposition candidate Aecio Neves and would win tomorrow's presidential election run-off by six to eight percentage points, two opinion polls show.

In Brazil's tightest election in decades, the leftist incumbent's aggressive campaign against pro-business senator Neves had bolstered her support while increasing rejection of her rival, the surveys showed.

Rousseff has gained ground by reminding voters of the rising wages and expanding social programmes many have enjoyed over the past 12 years of Workers' Party rule, benefits she said would be at risk because Neves would govern for the elite.
The surveys were the first by Brazil's major polling firms Ibope and Datafolha to show Rousseff with a lead greater than the margin of error, which is plus or minus 2 percentage points for both.

Rousseff has 49 per cent of voter support against 41 per cent for Neves, according to Ibope, and 48 per cent against 42 per cent for Neves, according to Datafolha."We are seeing a turnaround. It's visible on the streets," Rousseff, 66, who was trailing Neves last week, said at a Rio de Janeiro hotel where she was preparing for last night's final television debate.

An undaunted Neves dismissed the polls as unreliable, saying they had failed to detect his surge in the October 5 first-round vote in which he unexpectedly placed second ahead of environmentalist Marina Silva.