Exclusive from Brazil: “Lula will win by a narrow margin”

Today, Argentina’s main trading partner defines its future for the next four years. The contest will be resolved in a second round between two opposing ideologies that keep Brazilian society in a high degree of polarization. On the one hand, the leader of the Workers’ Party (PT), Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva, will seek his third non-consecutive presidential term. And across the street, the far-right and leader of the Liberal Party (PL), Jair Bolsonaro, is seeking his re-election.

More than 156 million people are authorized to exercise their vote in the neighboring country and a total of 12,746 Brazilian residents in Argentina can also do so. Within this group, 18 have at their disposal the Brazilian Consulate in Paso de Los Libres, in Corrientes and the border municipality with Uruguayana.

In the first round (October 2), Lula was victorious with 48% of the votes over ten competitors, including Bolsonaro, who finished second with 43%. However, the difference was not enough for the former president because he did not exceed the 50% required by local legislation.

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The main indicators, surveys and opinion polls, indicate that Silva, the first head of state from the working class, will again reach the presidency at 77 years of age. The serious results of the administration of the pandemic and the economic deterioration of the lower-income social classes are pointed out by specialists as the causes of Bolsonaro’s probable departure from power.

The Brazilian journalist and founder of the Opera Mundi news portal, Breno Altman, spoke exclusively with the newspaper Tiempo to analyze the details surrounding the elections and broke down the strengths and weaknesses of both candidates. For the political specialist, “Lula’s victory will be consolidated by a narrow margin.”

How is the electoral climate in Brazil? What direction do the polls show?

In all the polls there is an alignment under a perspective that marks a victory for Lula over Bolsonaro, with a distance that can range from three to six points, percentage figures that are equivalent to a difference of between 4 million and 8 million voters.

This situation generated a lot of political tension in the last 48 hours because Bolsonaro is giving signs that he could react in the way that Donald Trump did after losing the presidential elections with Joe Biden in 2020. That is to say, that he is preparing to denounce a fraud. He is already making moves that indicate he might not recognize the election result.

In short, the current climate includes a victory for the former president and political tension due to Bolsonaro’s reaction. I personally believe that Lula’s victory will be consolidated by a narrow margin. Although it is necessary to analyze the effects of the last televised debate that can surely have repercussions in the elections.

In Argentina, the debates have not yet had a notable impact on the polls. How much weight do you think they have in Brazil?

Normally little, but in a second round situation they acquire a more relevant weight, especially if the elections are very polarized, as it is in this case. Be that as it may, it is still an important episode in electoral campaigns.

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Much is rumored of a conflictive scenario in society before a defeat of the current president. Can there be acts of violence?

It is difficult to calculate the reaction capacity of Bolsonarism once defeated. I don’t think they are strong enough to generate a social upheaval in the country. There may be episodes of protest, mobilization and some isolated confrontations, but I don’t see a reaction that could lead the country to plunge into an institutional crisis. I also rule out an intervention by the armed forces or a cancellation of the results. I think that Bolsonarismo is a brave dog, but without the ability to bite.

From the Argentine media, the mismanagement of the pandemic (more than 680 thousand deaths) by Bolsonaro is attributed as one of the keys to the deterioration of his image. Is it so?

Bolsonaro’s poor performance during the pandemic is one of the main reasons for his electoral weakness. I do not have doubts. Due to his decisions (focused on downplaying the health situation), he lost the support of the middle sectors that gave him their votes in 2018.

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The other factor is the economy. Bolsonaro has not managed to generate, in terms of economic policy, situations that allow him to conquer the electorate with the lowest income. Rather it was the other way around, the poorest sectors of the working classes have worsened their quality of life in the last six years, even before the current president came to power.

The hunger that had decreased during the Workers’ Party government (between 2003 and 2016) has returned with more force. We are talking about 33 million people who go hungry (data from the Brazilian Network for Research on Food Sovereignty and Security). And although Bolsonaro can justify the economic situation with the pandemic or the war in Ukraine, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. And this situation in a country that is mostly made up of low-paid working people, backfires on him.

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Does Lula have a proposal that attracts votes? Or does that positive memory of eight years of government weigh?

I think there is a mix. On the one hand, the memory of the good years of his government (he left the Executive with more than 80% positive image). And he spoke on the campaign trail of pro-poor economic policy. For example, plans for access to housing or programs to reduce inflation. These considerations had an impact.

And what were Bolsonaro’s proposals?

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That is the issue, Bolsonaro ran a campaign that had no proposals, but focused on bringing together the sectors that are against the return of the PT leader. In a way, the campaign of the two was that, Lula organized the rejection against Bolsonaro, even from sectors that had never marched with his party. For example, the vice-presidential candidate, Geraldo Alckmin, had been an opponent of the PT government.

It is expected that by 7:00 p.m. the first results of the vote, which will be held electronically, will be known.

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Between desperation and the support of certain sectors

From Brazil they point out that there are ample signs of “desperation” in Jair Bolsonaro’s latest campaign events. At the same time that the misogynistic discourses (aversion towards women) and in favor of the evangelical churches also play against it.

The acting President denounced on Wednesday before the Superior Electoral Court that dozens of radio stations stopped broadcasting their free propaganda (154,085 advertisements), to which all candidates are entitled. Immediately, the body rejected the complaint and ordered the PL to be investigated for attempting to destabilize the elections. “These and other complaints are signs that they plan to lose the elections. All the polls give them an unfavorable scenario. I think that in the Bolsonarist commandos there is desperation, confusion and indefiniteness,” said Breno Altman, director of the Opera Mundi portal.

At the same time, Altman assured that Lula da Silva has an “overwhelming advantage” among the poorest population that represents 48% of the Brazilian electorate. “Women are also in favor of him, since Bolsonaro’s misogynistic speeches made him lose many votes. These are the two fundamental groups that guarantee Lula’s victory,” he predicted.

“A third more diffuse group is that of Catholics, who make up 70% of the population. The current administration is considered a government of the evangelists and they hold it responsible for starting a kind of holy war,” he said.

Finally, Altman explained why these elections are considered the most important since the return of democracy. “If Bolsonaro wins, it will mean the endorsement of a change of political regime from a liberal-representative democracy to a more authoritarian police state. On the other hand, a victory for Lula will translate into a commitment by society to the total reconstruction of the democratic system.”

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Debate

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Two pollsters who did studies on the Brazilian presidential debate held on Friday night on TV Globo agreed this Saturday that the former president, Lula da Silva, defeated the president, Jair Bolsonaro.

The qualitative survey carried out by the Atlas Intel institute among people who did not vote for Lula or Bolsonaro in the first round of October 2 showed that 51.5% of these voters indicated that the debate was won by the leader of the Workers’ Party (PT). ). Meanwhile, 33.7% pointed to the candidate from the Liberal Party as the winner, while 14.9% said they would not know how to answer.

For its part, the pollster Quaest reported that it did real-time digital monitoring on the social networks Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and indicated that Lula had 51% of positive mentions against 49% of negative mentions. Bolsonaro obtained, according to Felipe Nunes, CEO of Quaest, 36% of positive mentions and 64% of negative ones.

Exclusive from Brazil: “Lula will win by a narrow margin”