The future of Brazil at risk of “Bolsonarism”

VSIt was supposed to be an easy win. It will be a merciless duel. All the more unexpected as not foreseen by the polls, the results of the first round of the presidential elections in Brazil, Sunday 2 October, gave hope for a clear victory for Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, whose two terms, between 2003 and 2011, it had been characterized by a sharp decline in poverty in one of the most unequal countries in the world. The leftist candidate got 48.4% of the votes, while opinion polls predicted his possible election in the first round.

Lula, whose Workers’ Party has formed an alliance with eight other parties ranging from the center-right to the libertarian left, is certainly in a favorable vote and should benefit from the postponement of the votes of two candidates eliminated in the first round. But he will have to face outgoing far-right president Jair Bolsonaro in the second round on October 30, when the latter appears to benefit from a dynamic suggested by the gap between his actual score – 43.2% – and that predicted by the latest polls – about the 36%. An error partly linked to the boycott instructions given by the pollsters from the Bolsonaro camp to his supporters.

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The fact that the outgoing president gave little ground to the left – he got 46% of the vote in 2018 – while his term was marked by the brutal return of hunger and poverty, the wild deforestation of the Amazon rainforest and the tragedy of Covid. -19, highlights the far-right anchoring of most of Brazil’s 156 million voters and the profound polarization of the country. While there were eleven candidates in the running last Sunday, the two headliners, Lula, 76, and Jair Bolsonaro, 67, together won over 91% of the votes.

Place on the defensive

The weak points of the campaign of the former metalworker, largely aimed at the past and too little active on social networks, the supply of the Bolsonaro field to the government machine as well as the support of the Evangelical Churches, the release of billions destined for the most modest little before the elections they do not explain everything. The far-right candidate’s score suggests that even if he is ultimately defeated, his message steeped in religious morality and backward social values ​​is taking root in the country. As demonstrated by the first place of Jair Bolsonaro in 13 of the 27 Brazilian states and the push of the ultraconservatives in the congressional elections – where the Liberal Party of Bolsonaro gets the most elected – and those of the governors of the states of the Federation.

Read also: Article reserved for our members Presidential election in Brazil: Lula’s mistakes and “failure” of the polls explain Bolsonaro’s surprise score

Of course, Lula remains the favorite in the runoff and is only a point and a half away from victory. But, if he is finally elected, the new political map emerging from the polls risks making it more difficult to implement his program, especially his promise to restore social programs. On the defensive, the leftist candidate will have to deal with a situation not exactly foreseen if he wins: a Brazil, presented as a locomotive for the Latin American left, which turns out to be a melting pot for the far right, and an opponent who, like his friend Donald Trump in the United States, is able, thanks to social networks and evangelical churches, to leave an indelible mark on the country.

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