By: I. Toledo
The dispute between President Jair Bolsonaro and ex-president and ex-convict Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for the president elections in Brazil is increasing the tension in the country every day. After the first round of elections, Lula (PT) was found favorite amongst the 11 candidates for the country’s lead, with 48.4% of votes. Behind him, with roughly 6 million less votes, was current president Bolsonaro (PL), who is now accompanying Lula into the second round. These two candidates have very different views of what they want for the country and stand for very different ideals, Bolsonaro being a far-right and Lula a far-left politician. With a big support group both for Bolsonaro and Lula, the fight for Brazil’s presidency has divided the country almost in half, turning the elections into more than a fight for Brazil’s leadership, but also, for what the country stands for. The second round of elections will occur this Sunday, the 29th of October, and what will come out of it is still a mystery to all.
According to the polls, when removing the null and white votes from the first round, it was found that Lula represented 52% and Bolsonaro 48% of valid votes. Simone Tebet (MDB), placed 3rd in the first round with 4.2% of votes, has declared her support towards Lula. Polls say that 34% of her electors are opting to vote for the candidate, whilst 29% prefer Bolsonaro and 37% are still in doubt or will vote white. However, amongst those that supported Ciro Gomes (PDT), placed 4th in the first round with 3% of votes, 44% are opting for Bolsonaro and 33% for Lula, whilst 23% haven’t decided or will vote white. This shows an almost even distribution of support from those who did not vote for Lula nor for Bolsonaro in the first round.
Since the end of the first round, Bolsonaro was able to raise support between men, Evangelicals, black people and in the southeast. He is now showing a lead in support between Evangelicals, which represent more than a quarter of the Brazilian population, standing for 66% of them against 28% being Lula supporters, as well as the southeastern population, the region with the biggest population in Brazil, with 50% against 43% being Lula’s supporters.
On the other hand, Lula has also increased in popularity amongst white people and remains the favorite amongst women, poor people and Catholics. The ex-president has managed to raise his support by 2% amongst white people, now with 44% against a lead of 50% in Bolsonaro’s supporters. He has also sustained his leadership of 47% supporters from poor people, as well as 51% of women and 58% of Catholics.
Both sides have invested in propaganda, which has now taken over social media, online and paper newspapers, and radios. Aiming to take down Bolsonaro’s influence, Lula has spent more than double the money his rival has. Lula’s campaign includes criticizing the current president’s lead during the pandemic, stating he “was a disaster in the economy, mocked the pandemic, brough back hunger, and today millions of families are in debt”, as well as attacking Bolsonaro by stating he spreads fake news on the internet, and sharing videos which incriminate the president, such as the one where he states he almost took part in a cannibal ceremony when visiting an indigenous community. He also says Brazil came to be the 6th biggest economy in the country during his rule, which has been proved as an inaccurate claim by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Lula has also changed his speech in relation to miscarriage, now stating he is against it, when in April he affirmed the interruption of pregnancy should be a public health issue. On the other hand, Bolsonaro’s campaign includes emblazoning the election of people from his party, the PL, for the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, forming most of the Congress, with the argument that they would govern with more affinity to the president. He also appeals to women by stating that the most voted female deputies support the president, and declares parties linked to him elected black parliamentarians. Furthermore, the president criticizes the media for not showing the successes of his government and urges his supporters to attempt to ‘turn the votes’ of friends and family, for example when he says, “I ask you to continue working insistently with your neighbor, your friend, with your co-worker, to show that Brazil is working”.
The presidency elections in Brazil this year is truly on a knife’s edge. Both Bolsonaro and Lula have very strong campaigns and a close number of supporters, and even though polls show Lula has a slight lead, they can be wrong, especially considering the small margin between the two candidates. In truth, anything can happen, but the only certainty is that, whatever the outcome of the elections this Sunday, it will determine Brazil’s future.