Brazil’s glory days as part of the once-hyped BRICS pack seem far behind it. Millions of people have taken to the streets in anti-government protests, catalysed by a major corruption scandal surrounding state oil company Petrobras. The scandal has now claimed a former president, the once hugely popular Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. And it has tainted his chosen heir, current President Dilma Rousseff, with a possible government collapse in the offing.
The economy has crashed to its worst recession in a quarter century and the scandal has become a symbol of everything wrong with the country. Little wonder that public anger goes beyond the government to the political class as a whole—a familiar story in troubled economies worldwide in the post-crisis era. There’s a lesson here: populist policies and entitlement spending of the kind that Rousseff and her predecessor championed can only go so far without good governance.