In a country where music is a passion on par with soccer, election campaign jingles are elaborate, full-length songs. They are strategic component of a Brazilian candidate’s bid for office, acting, in some cases, as a de facto manifesto.
This year’s election, in which Dilma Rousseff of the Workers’ Party
(PT) hopes to become the country’s first female president, is no different to any of the others. However, the candidates’ choice of jingles is telling of Brazil’s current political landscape and is already the focus of a legal tussle between Rousseff, 62, and opposition candidate and former governor of the state of Sao Paulo, José Serra, 68.
Jumping on the bandwagon....
Ahead of the October 3 election, both candidates are attempting to jump on the bandwagon of outgoing President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s huge popularity, with both shamelessly utilising his name in their political jingles. “Lula” – as he is known - himself is unable to run for office, after already serving the legal limit of two consecutive terms.
Rousseff, who da Silva has openly backed to be his successor
, translated the president’s support into catchy lyrics: “My new Brazil/Brazil of the people/Which Lula began/Will continue with Dilma” and, “She helped Lula make a better Brazil for us/Lula is with her/So am I,” goes her main tune.
What is perhaps unexpected is José Serra’s effort to also cash in on “Lulamania”. His first presidential jingle begins with, “When Lula da Silva goes/ I want Joe to take his place,” and then continues to invoke da Silva’s name repeatedly until the last verse.
Rousseff is climbing in the polls
But in the first opinion poll (by Datafolha) since the new jingles debuted on the television and radio, Serra in fact lost three percentage points in just over a week, securing 30 percent of votes. By contrast, Rousseff had climbed from 41 to 47 percent during the same period.
Serra’s subsequent campaign ads have taken aggressive aim at Rousseff, attempting to disassociate her from Lula and to link himself with da Silva.
His latest jingle chimes, “Take your hand off Lula’s work/It doesn’t look good and all of Brazil is watching/Everything that Lula did, she says: it was me, it was me.” In another Serra television add three consecutive images show Serra and da Silva together while an off-camera voice says, “Serra and Lula, two men of history. Two experienced leaders”.
Rousseff’s team struck back immediately, publicly disparaging what they call Serra’s “pathetic” campaign, but also filing an official complaint with the country’s electoral commission. Article 54 of Brazil’s electoral law allows any citizen to appear in a candidate’s TV ads, “other than a member of another political party”.
On Sunday, the Commission dismissed the complaint because it said only da Silva himself could file it. The PT said it would appeal the decision.