University of Pittsburgh
October 23, 2006

Pitt Expert: Brazilian Underclass Identifies With Lula

Second-round runoff to take place Oct. 29
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PITTSBURGH-Pitt faculty member Barry Ames, author of The Deadlock of Democracy in Brazil (University of Michigan Press, 2001), is available to comment on the Brazilian presidential election. Ames says, "Barring new revelation about massive corruption, Lula will win easily in the second round of the election." Support for Lula among the poor is overwhelming, and Brazil is mostly poor, he says.

"More than three-fourths of the eligible poor population is receiving concrete benefits from the income-transfer program, called Bolsa Familia, and those folks vote in Brazil's obligatory voting system," Ames says. "Accusations of corruption bother the poor as well as the rich, but the poor believe that corruption has been widespread in all Brazilian governments, so they might as well support a government that benefits them," he adds. Ames says the underclass also holds the belief that Lula's humble origins are their origins, too.

Ames, a widely recognized North American scholar on Brazilian politics, is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Comparative Politics and chair of the political science department at the University of Pittsburgh. He is a core faculty member in the University Center for International Studies' Center for Latin American Studies at Pitt.