Democracy: Brazil 40%, Argentina 55%

The result of the elections in Brazil has multiple readings and surely none of them will be able to satisfy us. Let’s start with the result: 50.9% vs. 49.1%. It is obvious to say that it shows a society divided in two. But it is not a result that is foreign to us.

In Argentina in 2015 the result was 51.4% Mauricio Macri vs. 48.6% Daniel Scioli. Just 2.8 points difference. Both results within the statistical error of a survey. And both results generated a similar institutional situation, with legislative powers without their own majority. Before the elections in Brazil, very few assumed that the result would be so close. Lula da Silva had obtained the support of the leaders of the minority parties, however the voters of these did not pay attention to them.

The leaders had decided to support Lula because they understood that he was the best alternative in terms of democracy and institutional respect. This is what the next president of Brazil expressed when he referred to his triumph as the triumph of democracy. However, the majority of voters who voted for other candidates in the first round turned to Jair Bolsonaro in the second, without referring to the decision of the leaders.

The street demonstrations of Bolsonaro’s supporters refusing to accept that they have a new president show that their values ​​have little to do with the other part of Brazil. We have some clues about this phenomenon: according to the latest Latinbarometer survey, only 40% of Brazilians believe that democracy is the best system of government.

When Macri won, what happened to our neighbors did not happen. Scioli voters accepted the results without violence. In this sense, comments from leaders and social leaders of our country who had explicitly supported Bolsonaro, saying that in the end Lula did not win, are striking. It would be almost like saying that Macri did not win so much and then his victory was not worth it.

Fortunately, and because in Argentina 55% believe that democracy is the best system of government, what is happening in Brazil is not happening in our country at the moment. Questions arise and some conclusion. How did Bolsonaro manage to attract more than twice as many voters as Lula? How much influence did the debates, the territorial work, the money that was poured into plans to the popular sectors, the rejection of Lula? All this remains to be answered by electoral sociology. What is clear is that, as much as the leaders want to direct the vote, voters today more than ever feel free to decide what they please.

A teaching thinking about the elections in Argentina in 2023. An issue on which there is no agreement is how to interpret the political meaning of Lula’s victory. Some will say that the center-left won and that this will lead to the rebirth of the idea of ​​a great country. Others, that it was an alliance to defeat authoritarianism. Others, that it is only about the pendulum of history, that when people get tired of the ruling party it changes. All these interpretations will become clearer the day Lula’s third term begins.

What our country now has is a great opportunity for economic integration and joint projects with the neighboring country. In this sense, there are Argentine leaders and economists from different ideological backgrounds who agree that there is little national destiny without integration with Brazil, even thinking of a common currency or that integration serves as the basis for peso/real convertibility. What seems remote today can be reality if pragmatism is placed above the ideological.

Those who speak of integration do not necessarily propose the same thing, but it is clear that they understand that Argentina strengthens itself with Brazil. Lula also proposes looking for a common currency in the future. Just as Mercosur was a novel instrument at the time, thinking of new ways of inserting the country at the international level can serve to break the vicious circle of deterioration into which we have fallen.

* Political consultant.

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Democracy: Brazil 40%, Argentina 55%