Brazil’s zero hour: Lula and Bolsonaro have polarized the country to win the presidency | ANALYSIS

Y They are the political figures with the greatest drag in the country, and at the same time those who generate the greatest rejection: 50% of Brazilians do not like the current president and 46% think the same of the leftist ex-president.

According to its analysis, the Brazilian consulting firm Quaest concluded that “half of the voters who vote for Lula do so to remove Bolsonaro. And half of those who vote for Bolsonaro do so so that Lula does not come back.”

It is, once again, a completely polarizing election, and one that has demarcated the field more in this second round, where the proposals have been set aside to give prominence to attacks and misinformation, putting the voter between a rock and a hard place. .

Lula da Silva supporters at a rally for the former president at Cinelandia square in Rio de Janeiro. (AP Photo/Silvia Left) / Silvia Left

Since the first round, the president and his supporters had described this election as “a fight between good and evil”, while for the former president it was about “recovering” the country after four dark years under the government of the extreme right.

“This second-round campaign has been like a continuation of the first round, but the discourse has become more polarized, it has been more extreme,” comments to El Comercio Daniela Neves, doctor in Political Science and specialist in elections in Brazil.

“Saying that you vote for Lula means that the bandits and corruption will return, and saying that you vote for Bolsonaro means the end of democracy and that there will be a lot of violence. So there is a threatening tone, a negative propaganda. The campaign has not been purposeful, but to attack the opponent”, add.

For Mario Braga, senior analyst for Brazil at Control Risks consultancyhas been a campaign where government plans have not prevailed, but above all issues that have impacted the feelings and emotions of some specific groups of voters, such as religion. “This has escalated disinformation, and these are issues that are used as electoral weapons, since it can influence the decision of the vote”Explain.

Supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro at an event organized by evangelical churches on the Esplanade of Ministries in Brasilia. (Photo by EVARISTO SA / AFP)
Supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro at an event organized by evangelical churches on the Esplanade of Ministries in Brasilia. (Photo by EVARISTO SA / AFP) / EVARISTO SA

Thus, Bolsonaro has appealed to the evangelical vote, which constitutes a large part of his electoral base, and has not stopped pointing out that Lula will dedicate himself to closing churches and persecuting Christians; while the former president has preferred to moderate his progressive discourse by pointing out that he is against abortion and in favor of the family. Taking advantage of the president’s slips and his lack of a filter to launch comments, the ‘lulistas’ have even linked Bolsonaro with Freemasonry, pedophilia and cannibalism, thus adding to the list of ‘fake news’ that have spread throughout the country .

Point by point

Surveys show a slight difference in Lula da Silva -between 4 and 5 points- on Bolsonaro. But in the first round, most pollsters gave the leader of the Workers’ Party (PT) up to 14 points ahead of the current president, but finally the figures were 48% versus 43%, so victory is for anyone.

Although polarization has been the norm in the campaign, both candidates – who have an ardent base of stalwarts – know they need moderate and undecided voters to tip the scales.

The corruption that was uncovered during the PT's efforts has been a liability that former president and candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva must have carried. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
The corruption that was uncovered during the PT’s efforts has been a liability that former president and candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva must have carried. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino / UESLEI MARCELINO

“Lula has made alliances and received the support in the second round of Simone Tebet, who came third in the first round, as well as economists and politicians from the PSDB, the party that was the great adversary of the PT in the 90s. So, there was a intention to show Lula as someone more moderate and that he will not be a communist and radical leftist president. Again, it was a way of using the debate on the economy not as a proposal for something concrete, but as a way of activating people’s fears and appealing to emotion”, Braga specifies.

Neves comments that Bolsonaro the second round began, at the beginning of October, “more smiling, trying to show that he is not so radical and extremist and that he is leading the country on the right path to improve the economy. And on the other side, Lula has said that his government will not be from the PT; but a broad front that includes center-right parties, such as the PSDB”.

Risk of fraud?

One aspect that was preponderant in the first round, but which has not been left out in the campaign in recent weeks, is the danger that the president Bolsonaro do not recognize the result of the elections, if victory is taken Lula.

Just as Trump did with the vote by mail in the 2020 elections in the United States, Bolsonaro -faithful follower of the Republican- has been sowing doubts about electronic voting for months, despite the fact that it is a system that has not received complaints since its implementation in the late 1990s. Given the high polarization, that the most extreme Bolsonarists emulate the Taking of the Capitol is not unreasonable.

“I don’t see a scenario in which Bolsonaro will voluntarily give power to Lula. The big question is how much of the power structure in Brazil, including the armed forces, would accompany Bolsonaro in this adventure? The analyst Brian Winter, an American journalist specializing in Brazilian politics and editor-in-chief of the magazine “Americas Quarterly,” told El Comercio weeks ago.

For both campaigns, this election means a before and after that will determine whether the country is reborn or goes into free fall. Be that as it may, Bolsonarism is here to stay for a long time, and Lula has already demonstrated at length that, whatever happens to him, he is the politician who marked the history of the South American giant in the last 20 years.

Brazil’s zero hour: Lula and Bolsonaro have polarized the country to win the presidency | ANALYSIS