Brazil at the polls for the presidential elections: fight between Lula and Bolsonaro

We vote for the second round, the former president leading the polls
Rome, 30 Oct (askanews) – Accusations of corruption, Covid, deforestation and even cannibalism. No holds barred between Luiz Inicio Lula da Silva and Jair Bolsonaro in view of today’s ballot for the presidential elections in Brazil. The left-wing candidate, former head of state, won in the first round, almost a month ago, with over 48 per cent of the votes, and the polls always consider him to have an advantage over the outgoing president. Analysts, however, do not rule out surprises, also in consideration of the fact that Bolsonaro has already managed to surprise everyone, obtaining at the first vote a number of preferences well above those credited to him. The attention of the experts is directed above all towards Minas Gerais, the second most populous state and the fourth largest in Brazil, and its capital Belo Horizonte. No president has taken power without prevailing in Minas Gerais since Getúlio Vargas did so in 1950 and observers expect this year’s elections to be no exception. Both Catholics, Bolsonaro and Lula, especially in this month of election campaign, have sought support among evangelical Christian voters, who make up almost a third of the Brazilian population. A strategy that was not without disinformation, identified by experts as a dangerous weapon and widely used by the two candidates. Two sons of Bolsonaro and other politicians close to the outgoing president, for example, have released a video in which an influencer who calls himself a Satanist declares his support for Lula. The video went viral, along with messages stating that Brazil will take a “spiritual risk” if Lula returns to head of state. And this, despite the fact that the influencer had no relationship with the former president or any influence on his policies. Lula’s campaign team, in response, issued a statement rejecting any involvement in devil worship and the video was thus banned by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, the body that oversees the vote. Meanwhile, Lula’s campaign team staked it all on a 2016 New York Times interview in which Bolsonaro claimed to have visited an indigenous community in Brazil that was allegedly cooking a dead person, asking to attend the ritual. To obtain consent, Bolsonaro would be told that he would have to join the meal. “I would eat it,” the president would have said. “I would have no problem eating the native”. Lula’s campaign produced a video with the 2016 interview, saying, “It’s monstrous. Bolsonaro reveals that he would eat human flesh ”. And the right-wing candidate turned to the Electoral Court, which also in this case banned the dissemination of these images, saying that the interview had been re-proposed out of context. Bolsonaro and Lula then continued to challenge each other over the importance of defending the rainforest, which plays a vital role in absorbing harmful carbon dioxide. About 60% of the Amazon is located in Brazil and both candidates said they had the best arguments for its protection. During a debate, Lula said that with him in power there was “the lowest deforestation in the Amazon”, with Bolsonaro “the highest every year”. A thesis overturned by the candidate of the right. “During your government, deforestation took place twice as much as mine,” replied the outgoing president, who did not fail to strike Lula on the side, citing the great corruption scandal that affected Brazil and which began during the sent him. Billions of dollars were stolen in bribes and oil contracts linked to the state oil company, Petrobras. Lula himself was found guilty of involvement and was sent to prison in 2017. His conviction was overturned last year, allowing him to run for this election. For his part, Lula pointed the finger at Bolsonaro for promoting corruption and accused him of losing control of the country’s finances. A reference, not too veiled, to a “secret budget” included in the budget law approved in 2019, which allows the spending of public funds by federal legislators with limited supervision. Bolsonaro denies having approved the scheme. “I vetoed it and Congress overruled it,” he said in a debate on October 16. But it’s not true. At first, in November 2019, Bolsonaro vetoed the new mechanism included in the budget. A month later, however, the same presidency sent a new bill to Congress, which included the “secret” mechanism within it, and it was approved. A battle, the one between the two candidates, which was also fought over the management of Covid. Bolsonaro was accused of spreading misinformation about coronavirus vaccines and refused to be vaccinated. Lula heavily criticized his opponent’s efforts to control the pandemic and highlighted the country’s death toll. “Brazil has 3% of the world population and Brazil has had 11% of the deaths from the pandemic in the world,” he said. A toll that could also be much higher, according to health experts. Defending his government’s work, Bolsonaro declared that “over 500 million doses of the vaccine” had been purchased and that “Brazil is one of the most vaccinated countries in the world”. The fact remains that Brazilian citizens will turn up deeply split. Lula and Bolsonaro are loved by millions of compatriots and despised by as many Brazilians. According to the latest polls, the two candidates would be divided by six percentage points. Bolsonaro stated that he will recognize a possible defeat in the ballot only on condition that “nothing abnormal” occurs during the vote. “If the Transparency Commission, of which they also belong

Brazil at the polls for the presidential elections: fight between Lula and Bolsonaro – Pozzuoli 21