In explaining the 2010 election of President Dilma Rousseff, John French and Alexandre Fortes explore the stunning success of the Brazilian Workers Party (PT) and its leader, Lula, former trade unionist, in winning a third consecutive presidential victory. In historical perspective, the authors examine the ways in which Lula's government (2002 – 10) represented a break with the past while summarizing its substantive achievements in redistributing wealth and opportunity. Focusing on the tension between a historic party-centric petismo (declared partisan party support) and the broader personal popularity of its leader (lulismo), they offer evidence that Lula and the PT have retained their foundational ethos of enhancing popular self-esteem while fostering citizen participation and civil society mobilization, albeit under new conditions. They conclude with a diagnosis of the new government's challenges in light of international financial markets, labor mobilization, and the constraints of the Brazilian political system.

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