Brazil 2022 elections: two antagonistic projects and a region in suspense | The largest and most populous country in Latin America chooses this Sunday between Lula da Silva and Jair Bolsonaro

From Sao Paulo

Four years later, the election that could not take place in 2018 because one of the two candidates was banned and sent to prison, will finally take place. Now without a judge to act as referee, as happened with Sergio Moroformer Minister of Justice of a military cabinet and current adviser to the military-president, Jair Bolsonaro will seek his second term and Lula da Silva will try to return to the Planalto Palace for the third time. Two men, two different country projects and democratic coexistence, two politicians who hate each other and do not hide it, they will decide in the second round who governs Brazil until 2026. The decision will fall on the 156 million voters who have the largest voter registry in Latin America. And it will be after the first round in which the historic leader of the Workers’ Party (PT) took a difference of almost 6.2 million votes ahead of him. Now the latest polls give him a higher percentage than that 48.43% to 43.20% on October 2. Depending on which consulting firm is involved, the difference ranges between 4 (Datafolha) and 8 points (IPEC).

rarefied climate

Brazil lives in tension like never before in its democratic history since 1985, conditioned by the institutional seriousness of events that remained in the collective memory. The impeachment against former president Dilma Rousseff on August 31, 2016 and the arrest of Lula after the judicial process led by Moro and ended with their sentences annulled in March 2021. To this political climate, already rarefied, the confrontational dialectic of the current president contributed. His strategy of continuing to cling to power through a cocktail of threats to the institutional order and fake news (see page 5) did the rest. And they earned him a growing international isolation.

The electorate will not only define the new president today. In twelve states – three of them very importantSão Paulo, Bahia and Rio Grande do Sul – There will be a second round to define who gets the governorship. The rest are Alagoas, Amazonas, Espírito Santo, Mato Grosso do Sul, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Rondônia, Santa Catarina and Sergipe.

Yesterday, in the capital of São Paulo, Lula closed his campaign with a walk, and it was not by chance. His candidate Fernando Haddad, aims to reverse the result of the first turn. He was defeated by Bolsonaro’s former Minister of Infrastructure, Tarcisio Gomes de Freitas, by wide difference. But in the latest polls, the former PT presidential candidate came quite close to him. São Paulo is key because it is the most populous state in Brazil. It has a number of inhabitants very similar to that of all of Argentina.

Compulsory voting

In this country, voting is mandatory from the age of 18 and those over 70 can choose not to do so. Unlike what happens in Argentina, when going to the electronic ballot box, the identity card, the national driver’s license (CNH), a social security card, a passport, a certificate of military reservist, work card or any other photo document.

The high percentage of abstention in the first round – almost 20 percent of the voter registry and 32 million voters – indicates that the key to today’s result may lie in that unavoidable portion of citizens. Although they did not participate in that election, they will have no impediments to do so in this second and decisive instance.

Lula targeted them above all, the candidate who, according to different analysts, would have been the main victim of the abstentions on October 2, when he scratched 50 percent of the valid votes. His voter profile, humble and located in the most popular neighborhoods, with economic difficulties to travel, was not present 28 days ago in the towns where he is registered, often located at great distances in a huge territory like the Brazilian .

Change of actitud?

On this complicated eve, of operations and cross accusations where the election is played out more on social networks than on the streets, some striking episodes occurred. The current president had an unusual attitude. Contrary to what he had been maintaining – his allegations of fraud and that he would condition his acceptance of the results on the military verdict -, Bolsonaro declared: “There is not the slightest doubt. Whoever gets the most votes wins. That is what democracy is all about”. His comment was a bath of realism. She did it on Friday night after the presidential debate in the studios of the Globo group and before the presenter of that chain, Renata Lo Prete.

The behavior that the far-right politician had not had throughout the campaign, was it a acting to appear more moderate at the close of an election where all the polls give him the loser? If it were for the contempt he showed towards journalism in recent days, it could be said that they prepared a custom script for him. After the debate with Lula in Rio de Janeiro, the journalist from the daily Folha de San PabloÍtalo Nogueira asked him an uncomfortable question about one of the usual fake news with which he persists in attacking Lula. That the leader of the PT had visited a drug trafficker in the Alemao Complex of Rio de Janeiro, something that was proven is not true.

The president asked him out loud at the conference where the former judge Moro accompanied him: “Do you call me a liar?” This was followed by his untimely withdrawal after the long television confrontation with the leader who is trying to take the presidency from him.

violent streets

The temperature of the street is not more friendly than that which is breathed in the virtual world, where Bolsonarism is wide-legged. Yesterday the deputy of the Liberal Party for São Paulo and an ally of the president, Carla Zambelli, ran a mulatto man through the neighborhood gardens, one of the most affluent in this city. He said that he had assaulted her, took a gun and walked across the street a few steps pointing forward until he entered a bar. There was the alleged attacker who, as a video proved, did not hit her and did the opposite. He tried to get away from the place in the minority because he was also seen being tripped by other people who accompanied Zambelli.

Due to a change in the electoral law in 2021 and the exponential increase in weapons in the hands of civilians in the country, the deputy with her handgun could never come within a hundred meters of any polling station. I would commit a crime in flagrante delicto if this Sunday I had passed near a school pointing at a person. The event had a lot of repercussion in the media. It is almost a postcard of the excess with which we live and also reflects how we got here in this decisive election that kept Brazil on edge for a month.

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Brazil 2022 elections: two antagonistic projects and a region in suspense | The largest and most populous country in Latin America chooses this Sunday between Lula da Silva and Jair Bolsonaro