BRASïLIA (AFP) – Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff will be sworn in for her second term Thursday before thousands of cheering supporters, but any moment of triumph will surely be short lived.
The world’s seventh-biggest economy — once booming — has barely grown during the left-wing former urban guerrilla’s first term, and she begins her next with her government dogged by scandal.
The ongoing probe investigation into a huge network of corruption at Petrobras, the state oil firm she used to chair, has tainted many of her allies and weakened her as she turns to the economy.
Rousseff won October’s hard-fought election thanks to voters reliant on the extensive social welfare programs put in place a decade ago by her Workers Party predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Her own term in office, however, saw mass street demonstrations that threatened to take the shine off even set-piece spectacles like the 2014 football World Cup.
She nevertheless defeated her right-wing rival Aecio Neves, who won over the business community but failed to convince workers that he could revive growth without drastic cuts.
Around 32,000 Workers Party faithful are en route to Brasilia in around 800 coaches to attend her investiture, seeking to drown out potential anti-Rousseff demonstrations.
She will be driven in a Rolls Royce down the Ministries Esplanade to Congress, where she will take the oath of office before heading to her presidential palace to make a national address.
“Rousseff starts the year laboring under a crisis of credibility – not just because of the mess with Petrobras but because the country has lost international credibility,” analyst Andre Leite of TAG Investments told AFP.
The Petrobras scandal and the ongoing police investigation – dubbed “Operation Car Wash” – erupted just a few months before Rousseff won re-election.
So far suspicion has fallen on 39 people, including former Petrobras directors and pro-government politicians, a network which allegedly laundered around $3.8 billion creamed off from inflated contracts.
Petrobras is facing legal action in the United States over investor losses emanating from a scandal that has seen the firm’s stock plunge, and hit its creditworthiness and ambitious investment plans.
Aside from dealing with the crisis at the firm, Rousseff’s priority will be to revive economic growth -although economists expect 2015 to bring little cheer.