This is the first in a series of entries looking at what we can expect in 2013. Each weekday, a guest analyst will look at the key challenges facing a selected country – and what next year might hold in store.

In her first two years as Brazil’s first female president, Dilma Rousseff did the improbable. A neophyte in elective politics seen by many as a mere extension of her revered predecessor and mentor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Rousseff is today more popular at home than her creator. Remarkably, she gained the trust of the Brazilian people while her economic team and policies lost investors’ confidence – GDP growth moved in the opposite direction of her approval rating, shrinking from 7.5 percent in 2010 to 2.7 percent in 2011, and somewhere around 1 percent this year.

Now Rousseff faces the impossible. She has vowed to accelerate growth to 4 percent in the coming year while insisting on the same set of policies that produced the disappointing results of the recent past, made evident by the announcement in late November of a paltry 0.6 percent of GDP expansion in the third quarter, way below government and market expectations. Experts are divided on whether the bad news will make her change course. There is little disagreement, however, that 2013 will be Rousseff’s moment of truth.

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Picture courtesy of Blog do Planalto