Lula or Bolsonaro? The ballot in Brazil decides the future of international alliances

The “Super Domingo“, the first round of electionsto designate the future president, the vice president and the National Congress of Brazil. Unlike the surveyswhich predicted a landslide victory for Lula, the PT candidate has obtained 48.4% of the votes (about 57.3 million), followed by Bolsonaro with 43.2% (about 51 million votes). Since neither of them has reached 50% of the preferences: we will go to runoff on October 30th.

The peculiarity of the second round in Brazil is it clash between two opposing visions. On the one hand, the former president Lula76, trade unionist, who, during his presidency, underwent a conviction for corruption in the “Lava Jato” process, which led to Lula’s arrest for 580 days. However, this trial was canceled due to the lack of “legal competence” of Judge Sergio Moro at the time of the sentence, for which Lula was later rehabilitated thanks to a decision of the Brazilian Supreme Court. During the election campaignLula tried to build a positive image, relying on one rhetoric sweeter and more proactive, often citing words such as “credibility”, “stability”, and “hope for a better country”. His election program remains consistent with its previous governments, proposing major ones public investments for infrastructures – also favored by an increase in social spending a major protection of workersa redistribution of the incomeit’s a brake on privatization. Another important objective, especially with a view to an energy transition, is the strengthening ofnational public and private enterprise towards greater technological modernity and innovation. As for the environment, Lula proposed the creation of a minister of the Amazonin order to promote greater forest protection.

On the other side is the current far-right president Jair Bolsonaro 67 years old. His presidency was tough criticized for the mismanagement of the pandemic, characterized by a scarce use of restrictions that has led Brazil to be one of the most affected countries, with almost 700,000 deaths and more than 30 million infected. Furthermore, the denial of the climate crisiswith facade measures for environmental protection, cuts to agencies for the fight against deforestation and staff reduction, has caused the phenomenon of deforestationwhich has broke all records in the first six months of 2022, with 40,000 square kilometers of forest destroyed. Bolsonaro is counting on the support above all of farmers, evangelicals and conservatives, as he faces resistance from younger voters and women. In his election programeven Bolsonaro follows the rhetoric of his current mandate: to favor privatizations and the free marketby limiting state intervention in the economy, decrease the tax burden and bureaucracy to encourage the birth of new businesses. The president, in his speecheshe often used words like “god”, “homeland”, “family” and “freedom”, highlighting his own conservative position about abortion, its opposition to gender ideology and the support of the traditional family.

These elections are also important for international alliances. According to Professor PrietoBrazil continues to be a very important player internationally”, Underlining its importance on an economic level, due to the wealth of natural resources. In the current context of the war in Ukraine, Brazil can supply some goods that are in short supply, such as agricultural products or fertilizers. Both contenders have ruled on the conflict so ambiguous. Bolsonaro has shown that he is close to Russia, after having himself traveled to Moscow a few days before the invasion of Ukraine e importing Russian fertilizers despite international sanctions. Lula, on the other hand, has often criticized Ukrainian President Zelensky.

As for the relations with the United States, always quite good, a similarity has emerged between Donald Trump and Bolsonaro. The latter in fact claims that will accept the results of the elections only if these are “clean and transparent”, insinuating that the elections could be rigged against him, albeit without concrete evidence. In other words, according to The Economist, Bolsonaro appears to lay the groundwork for denouncing one election fraud and deny the verdict of the polls. Worrying also for US President Joe Biden, according to whichDemocracy cannot survive when one side believes there are only two outcomes for an election: winning or being deceived“. In this regard, it must be remembered that in Brazil the vote is electronic and protected by eight anti-fraud sealsand it’s obligatory for literate citizens (about 90%), of majority age and with full legal capacity. On the other hand, it is optional for those aged between 16 and 18 (about 2 million young people) and for those over 70.

Last, but not least, also the China watches carefully the elections in Brazil. To date, Brazil’s main trading partner does not take sides openly, although Beijing seems to have disliked the pro-Trumpian positions of Bolsonaro and children of the trade war between the United States and China. However, the strong interdependence between the two powers appears to continue into the future, whatever the outcome of the elections.

In conclusion, the results of the first round have therefore led the two major candidates to try to accumulate votes among the decisive voters: the game still remains open until October 30th.

Alessandra Gallina

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