The dynamics of chronic poverty and social exclusion in Brazil: which way after Lula victory?


This paper seeks to examine the extent to which the new PT government headed by Lula is committed and politically prepared to effectively pursue pro-poor policies and combat Brazil's chronic and endemic poverty and social disparities. The key lines of enquiry of this paper are:
to determine the capacity and the political preparedness of the Brazilian state under Lula to carry out the much needed second generation of reforms; to understand the nature of the current coalition of social forces represented by the Workers' Party and its allies in the Congress and its implications for the policies that the Lula government might adopt in delivering on its election promises of creating a more equal society in Brazil; and to examine the policy options it has to balance its international commitments to the World Bank, IMF and other foreign creditors and its commitments of combating poverty.

The paper is organised in seven sections. In Section 2, we examine the nature of the currently dominant discourses on poverty including Hulme's anchor paper for this conference. In section 3, we present some basic facts about the nature and extent of chronic poverty in Brazil and trace its historical roots. In section 4, we argue that the emergence of the PT as a political party represents a noticeable departure from the traditional elite-driven political culture of Brazil and a significant move towards grassroots based participative democracy. We also point out in this section that there exist factional splits within the party which might reduce its ability to function effectively as an agency of change. In section 5, we analyse recent shifts in the relative strengths of the left, the centre and the right parties in the federal Congress. In section 6, we look into the contents of the PT's campaign manifesto of 2002 with reference to their implications for combating poverty. In the concluding section 7, we present some of the early indications of the likely future scenario.


The dynamics of chronic poverty and social exclusion in Brazil:which way after Lula victory?, presented at Staying Poor: Chronic Poverty and Development Policy, Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester, 7-9 April 2003. Chronic Poverty Research Centre (CPRC), Manchester, UK, i + 10 pp.

The dynamics of chronic poverty and social exclusion in Brazil: which way after Lula victory?

Published 1 January 2003