WHEN MASS demonstrations galvanised in the Middle East and North Africa two years ago, the leaders were quick to dismiss them as temporary agitation. Even when the protests gained momentum with every passing week, the dictators were hesitant to offer anything other than a vague, half-hearted promise of ‘reforms’ to the angry protesters.
Interestingly, the democratically elected Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan treated the protests no differently. As the protests in Istanbul expanded over time, and their point of contention shifted from the government’s plan to cut down trees in Istanbul’s Gezi Park to Erdogan’s alleged authoritarian policies and the waning of secular institutions, Erdogan still appeared to stick his guns. The only real concession he is willing to make is putting a halt on the construction plans at Gezi Park.
So what is it that made Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff readily relent in the face of public demonstrations? Roussef, faced with mammoth protest rallies in over 100 cities in Brazil, has been quick to propose political reforms in her country. And her proposal is definitely more specific than the promises Bashar Al Assad or Hosni Mubarak made when protests in their countries intensified. …
The reason for Roussef’s pliant attitude might be because she is new to power. Unlike Hosni Mubarak or Moammer Gaddafi or even Erdogan, who is serving his second term as prime minister, Roussef was elected only two years ago and therefore does not have supreme confidence in her own power. More importantly, the World Cup will be held in Brazil next year and the country needs to have peace on its streets if it is going to attract tourists and manage the grand sporting affair. The Brazilian Spring appears to have been ‘cooled’ by the government’s reconciliatory posture.
The Khaleej Times, Dubai