Black Candidate’s Rise in Brazil Reflects Shifting Views on Race

The emergence of a black candidate in Brazil’s presidential race is highlighting a major shift in racial views in a country that was the biggest slave importer in the Americas and last to abolish the practice.

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Middle Class Brazil Lifts Voice

Juliana Oliveira is enjoying a life that seemed unimaginable during her childhood in Brazil’s poor northeast. She has two college degrees, a good salary at a multinational jeweler, and an apartment in this pricey, cosmopolitan city.

The 33-year-old, however, is rethinking her support of the ruling Workers’ Party in the October presidential elections. The party oversaw a decade of rapid economic growth that propelled millions like her into a growing middle class, but has been tainted by corruption, she said.

“Brazil has improved, but we can do much, much better,” said Ms. Oliveira, who voted for President Dilma Rousseff in 2010 but was also one of a million Brazilians who took to the streets last year to protest corruption and poor public services.

Ms. Oliveira personifies the rising expectations and sharper demands of Brazil’s expanding middle class, which now makes up 47% of the nation’s voters and about 55% of its population. Economists in Brazil refer to it as Class C, one of five income categories, from A to E, with A being the highest earners.

The rising demands of Class C are a big reason why the Workers’ Party, or PT, finds itself locked in a surprisingly difficult electoral battle with political upstart Marina Silva, the Socialist candidate who is in a technical tie with Ms. Rousseff in recent polls. Center-right candidate AĆ©cio Neves is in third place.

“This is a new middle class that had access to consumer goods and credit and is grateful to PT governments,” said Mauro Paulino, director-general of Datafolha polling firm. “But now they want more.”

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China’s Alibaba Draws Brazilian Bargain Shoppers

Investors aren’t the only ones in a frenzy these days over Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., which hopes to raise as much as $24 billion in an initial public offering next week.

Squeezed by high prices at home, Brazilian consumers in search of bargains are flocking to the Chinese e-commerce giant. In July, more than 12 million browsed Alibaba’s AliExpress website, a unit of Alibaba.com. That’s almost triple the reach of eBay Inc.’s marketplace in Brazil and up sharply from the site’s 1.5 million unique visitors a year earlier, according to research firm comScore. From June to July alone, the number of visitors in Brazil jumped 40%.

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