for luis inacio lula da silva, the leftist former president of Brazil, it was a disappointing result. His supporters dared to hope that the well-known Lula would win an outright majority in the October 2 presidential election. Instead, the race was far tighter than most polls predicted. Lula got 48 percent of the vote, compared with 43 percent for right-wing populist incumbent Jair Bolsonaro. The two will meet in the final on October 30.
The polarized election campaign has largely hinged on which candidate Brazilians like least. Many have blamed Mr Bolsonaro for his mishandling of the pandemic, his crude attacks on opponents and the generally lackluster economic record of his tenure. Many others blamed Lula and his Workers Party (PT) previous recession, from 2014 to 2016, and a massive corruption scandal car wash operation (CAR WASH). Lula served 18 months in prison for taking bribes, but his conviction was later overturned. At one point, 38% of Brazilians said they wanted neither Mr Bolsonaro nor Lula as president. But no other candidate has much support.
Mr Bolsonaro, who will be in the runoff, feels motivated. Many of his closest allies were elected to Congress. Contrary to what polls had predicted, he got more votes than Lula in Sao Paulo, the most populous state. He clearly benefits from hidden voting: the in-person polls may have oversampled the poor, who tend to support Lula, and Bolsonaro fans, who may have refused to participate because they did not trust pollsters.
An improving economy could also help the president. Inflation peaked at 12% and is currently at 8.7%. The government has spent billions this year providing cash transfers and subsidies to poorer Brazilians, even though more of them still voted for Lula. In a speech on election night, Mr Bolsonaro attributed their “desire for change” to high food prices and said he would convince them “some changes will be worse”. The day after the vote, the government announced that October cash transfers would be issued a week earlier, well before the runoff election.
Mr Bolsonaro will also seek to benefit from a new alliance of states such as Minas Gerais, the second most populous state and a major battleground. Some 48 percent of voters chose Lula, compared with 44 percent for Mr Bolsonaro. But right-wing governor Romeu Zema won re-election with 56 percent of the vote.His announcement of support for Mr Bolsonaro after the election may have prompted some mineros Change their allegiance.
However, Lula remains the favorite to win the runoff. He beat Mr Bolsonaro by around 6 million votes. Many poorer voters have fond memories of his tenure from 2003 to 2010, when his government channeled the gains from the commodities boom into social programs. On election morning in the industrial city of Sao Bernardo do Campo near Sao Paulo, where Lula started as union leader, janitor Lourdes Nunes said the former president’s victory would make her “dream again”. While Lula headed the metalworkers union, her parents joined the middle class working at Volkswagen plants. Under Lula, her wages have also risen.
After the election, Lula tried to lift his spirits as he addressed dispirited campaign staff. “Some of you are disappointed that I have 30 more days left on the campaign trail,” he said. “But I like to campaign.” His best hope of attracting the 15 million voters who canceled their vote or endorsed one of the other candidates is to demonstrate his willingness to govern as a moderate. On October 5, he was backed by centrist Simone Tebet, who won 4.2% of the vote. He might offer her a position in his government. He also had lukewarm support from fourth-place candidate Ciro Gomes, who got 3 percent.
A runoff will test Brazil’s institutions, especially if Lula ends up narrowly winning, an outcome Mr Bolsonaro refuses to accept. For more than a year, the president has sowed doubts about Brazil’s electronic voting system, suggesting that anything other than his own victory was a sign of “fraud.” On Sept. 28, his Liberal Party released a document misnamed an “audit” that falsely claimed voting machines were at risk of being hacked by “a handful of technologists.” [with] Has the absolute power to manipulate election results without leaving a trace”. Instead of accepting that his strong results show the criticisms are wrong, some of his fans claim that he really won.
On polling day in Campo San Bernardo, Cleiton Moseli was so sure Mr Bolsonaro would win in the first round that he joined forces with Lula supporters Bet: Three cases of beer. “Lula has no chance,” he said. He felt that if Lula won, it would be evidence of “manipulation” and he would protest. His friend Jose Tadeu said he would ask the military to intervene to prevent Lula from coming to power. Both echoed the president’s insinuations that Lula would “close churches” and “implement communism” if elected. Pablo Ortellado of the University of São Paulo, who monitors pro-Bolsonaro groups, believes there could be “agitation” if Lula wins .
Cláudio Couto of the Fundação Getulio Vargas University said Mr Bolsonaro would continue to portray Lula as a corrupt, amoral communist. Such rhetoric will fuel a polarizing and sometimes violent movement. “Everything is tense,” says Esther Solano of the Federal University of São Paulo. “All it takes is a spark.” Three Lula supporters and one Bolsonaro supporter were killed by each other’s fans.
In a recent poll commissioned by the Brazilian Public Safety Forum, nearly 70 percent of Brazilians said they feared being physically attacked because of their political views.During Lula’s final campaign march in São Paulo the day before the election, a group of young people admitted that for the first time they planned not to wear PT Stickers for voting. “What if there is a Bolsonarista? What if he had a gun? ’ wondered Giovana Moraes, 23.
But voting on Oct. 2 went smoothly, without election-related violence or any serious problems involving voting machines (about 3,000 malfunctioned and needed to be replaced, or 0.6% of the total, which in this case size of the election is normal). Many Brazilians will pray on October 30th as well.
At the same time, it is clear that the success of right-wing parties in Congress will have long-term consequences. Mr Bolsonaro’s party gained seats and would become the largest party in the Senate and lower chambers, leaving a conservative bloc allied with the president just short of a majority. “We’re not talking about a more dependencyist Congress,” said Guilherme Casarões, also from Fundação Getulio Vargas. “We’re talking about a more important Congress Bolsonarista“
If Lula wins, it will be difficult for him to govern. Passing constitutional reforms that require a two-thirds majority will be particularly difficult. Lula will need support from opportunistic centre-right parties that will demand pork in exchange. Bruno Carazza of business school Fundação Dom Cabral said negotiations would be done on a case-by-case basis, “and they won’t be cheap.” If Mr Bolsonaro wins re-election, it will be easier for him to push through laws easing environmental regulations and gun restrictions. He may try to increase the number of Supreme Court justices. no matter who wins, Bolsonaroism Looks like a force remaining in Brazil.■