Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff is losing ground, and the recent large-scale demonstrations are just one of the symptoms, according to Dmitry Burykh, Deputy Head of RISS’ Centre for Euro-Atlantic and Defence Research. In his opinion, such mass protests are caused by purely economic problems. “If before we were talking about GDP growth of 3 to 4%, this year it’s unlikely to exceed 1%,” says Burykh.

The fact of the demonstrations has also not come as “a bolt from the blue.” “It’s the cumulative effect of the protest potential inherent in Brazilian society,” explains Burykh, “and which already accumulated several years ago: think of the protests on the eve of the World Cup in 2014, and the protests that occurred earlier this year.”

Rousseff’s problems lie in her particular management style and “conducting negotiations with all parties of the political spectrum in Brazil”. Burykh notes the Brazilian President “represents a very left-wing party, and participated in an extremist organization in her youth, which has impacted on her negotiability”. Moreover, Burykh adds, “the country’s President is now a formal entity, and the country is, in fact, controlled by a so-called ‘triumvirate’, which includes Vice-President Michel Tamar and the heads of the two chambers of parliament. All of them belong to the “Democratic Movement” party, which allied with Rousseff during the Brazilian presidential elections. “This party is now trying to distance itself from the President since the protests – it is a public demand for change,” says Burykh.

According to the expert, “in view of the situation the country’s political establishment is now considering four basic scenarios: impeachment, the voluntary resignation of the President, the voluntary resignation of the President and the Vice President, and finally, maintaining the status quo albeit with a more pronounced distancing of the current President from power”. Burykh also stresses that all options, implying resignation, are unlikely to be acceptable to Brazil since the elections in that country are expensive. He regards the fourth scenario as the most likely although the decision on its implementation remains pending. “An active intra-party and inter-party negotiation process is now on foot, with a result likely in no more than two to three months, otherwise the protest potential will spill over into something bigger.”

In the meantime, concerns about the fact that Brazil’s political problems could hurt the BRICS club are unfounded. “The reason – the economy. Brazilians now find themselves in this situation largely because the competitiveness of the export-oriented Brazilian economy is slowing down largely due to the lack of infrastructure. BRICS with its Development Bank is focused on development. Brazil is hardly likely to find such means anywhere else. In particular, we are talking about the financial capabilities of China and the scientific and technical capabilities of Russia. This is clearly acknowledged by representatives of the Brazilian government at virtually all levels and is also recognized by representatives of all political parties,” concludes Burykh.