A week before the presidential election, Brazil is entering the home stretch of an ultra-polarized electoral campaign summed up in a merciless duel between Jair Bolsonaro and Lula, whose election in the first round seems possible.
If 11 candidates line up at the start, it is the fight between former left-wing president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (47% of voting intentions according to the latest Datafolha poll) and far-right president Jair Bolsonaro (33 %) which captures the attention.
It is with consistency that opinion polls have for months granted a third term to lead the first power in Latin America to Lula, president from 2003 to 2010 and leader of the Workers’ Party (PT, left).
The former steelworker left power with stratospheric approval ratings (87%), before being disgraced in prison for corruption (2018-2019) and being prevented from running again. His election, at 76, would mark a remarkable comeback.
It currently benefits from a dynamic. “Polls say there is a real possibility that Lula will win in the first round” of October 2, notes Fernanda Magnotta, analyst at the FAAP foundation in Sao Paulo.
Lula could benefit from the “useful vote” if “the voters of less competitive candidates such as Ciro Gomes migrate to him”, she explains, about the center-left candidate, 3rd in the polls (7%) ahead of Simone Tebet ( centre-right, 5%).
The much talked about “useful vote” has become the dominant theme of Lula’s campaign.
For Carolina Brigido, columnist at the UOL news site, “the typical attitude of the Brazilian voter is to wait until the date of the election approaches to vote for the favorite”.
In recent days, Lula has surfed on a wave of support: ex-president Fernando Henrique Cardoso asked Brazilians to vote “for democracy”, his ex-minister of the Environment Marina Silva joined him after a long scramble.
Left-wing politicians and intellectuals in Latin America called on Ciro Gomes to step down to facilitate Lula’s victory.
– “It can be dangerous”-
But Friday, Jair Bolsonaro, 67, of the Liberal Party (PL), assured during a meeting in Minas Gerais (south-east): “We will win in the 1st round”.
On Telegram, Bolsonarist networks are campaigning to explain that if their champion is not elected on October 2, it is because the election will have been fraudulent.
The fear of a Brazilian remake of the assault on the Capitol is on everyone’s mind.
“It can be dangerous,” Ms. Magnotta said, “Bolsonaro will most likely invoke electoral fraud, like Donald Trump, it will galvanize his supporters.”
Because the ex-captain of the Army can count on battalions of supporters ready for anything. He himself has several times violently attacked the institutions of the young Brazilian democracy, such as the Supreme Court, and led a virulent campaign against electronic ballot boxes, which would promote “fraud”.
But suddenly lowering his tone, this unpredictable president also declared that if he lost, he would retire from politics.
It is therefore impossible to predict the sequence of events on the evening of the 1st round.
– “Thief, incompetent” –
Bolsonaro and Lula’s campaign has been marked more by personal attacks — “thief”, “incompetent” — than by presenting programs.
The daily O Globo called on Lula on Saturday to propose “a coherent economic project”, because “if he wins, no one knows how he will govern”.
The candidates crisscrossed the gigantic Brazil and held countless meetings in bulletproof vests.
The theme of the environment and the climate, in this country sheltering the Amazon, has fallen by the wayside, unlike hunger, inflation or corruption, concerns of the majority of the 214 million Brazilians.
To cast a wide net, Lula tried to flirt with the evangelicals who constitute the base of Jair Bolsonaro’s electorate with agribusiness and pro-weapons. He also chose to run for the very moderate ex-governor of Sao Paulo Geraldo Alckmin, of the center right, in order to reassure the markets which view his election with apprehension.
Mr. Bolsonaro, for his part, is trying unsuccessfully to seduce a female electorate who mainly flees him for his sexist remarks and has plowed the Nordeste, stronghold of Lula, without much effect either, according to the polls.
False information is surging like never before on social networks. They are also widely relayed by the presidential candidates themselves, on television, and even on the UN platform last Tuesday by Jair Bolsonaro.
The week that opens will see the sworn enemies throw their last forces into battle, with big meetings and, on Thursday, a highly anticipated televised debate, where, unlike Saturday, Lula should be present.
Source: Challenges en temps réel : accueil by www.challenges.fr.
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