3 Brownie Points
| Brazil's PSDB shows its teeth |
The Brazilian government's shock failure to make permanent the CPMF, a financial transactions tax expected to bring in R$40bn ($22.3bn, £11bn, €15.4bn) next year, has rattled some analysts, concerned that it will make it harder for the government to meet its fiscal targets. They should not worry. The government will have to do some unaccustomed belt-tightening, but the primary budget surplus will remain intact. Yet this was not, as it might at first appear, a victory of orthodox economics over government profligacy. The centrist opposition PSDB did not pull off the surprise trick of achieving watertight party unity in order to defeat the CPMF, though its senators made some fine debating points in that cause during the nine-hour session that preceded the vote.
They did it, instead, to defeat president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. They are fed up with the government's having everything its own way, with its taking the credit for policies introduced by the previous PSDB administration, and with seeing their own electoral hopes fade as Lula's popularity remains consistently high in spite of the government's almost complete stasis.
Will the PSDB consolidate its success? To do so, it must convince voters that tax cutting and better management are in their interest. Against that argument, the government will portray the PSDB as the enemy of the poor. It is a long way to the 2010 election and the PSDB has fired its first shot early. It will have to pull off several more big surprises to make this victory count.