Former President Lula is given the advantage with 49% of preferences against Bolsonaro’s 44% (Datafolha data), but there is a margin of error of about 2% and the current right-wing leader could recover. The race for the presidency risks polarizing the Christian electorate: evangelicals on the one hand, Catholics on the other
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Tomorrow the Brazilians will go to the polls to elect the next president: the ballot between the current right-wing leader Jair Bolsonaro (Free Party, Pl) and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (left, Workers’ Party, Pt) is a head to head more and more on. The debate, analysts point out, will tend to polarize Christian voters, dividing Evangelicals from Catholics. Lula, former president for two terms, is given the lead by polls: Datafolha places him at 49% against Bolsonaro’s 44%. However, there is a margin of error of around 2%.
Evangelicals with Bolsonaro
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According to a recent survey by Quaest, Bolsonaro holds 61% of the votes among evangelical followers, against Lula’s 31%. An inverse situation among the Catholic faithful, where the leader of the PT is in the lead with 54% of the votes, against 37% of his opponent. Suffrages that weigh, given that out of over 150 million voters, about 50% define themselves as Catholic and 31% evangelical. And precisely “among evangelicals there is the feeling that the vote is not an individual decision, but rather a sort of collective identity choice”, anthropologist Jacqueline Moraes Teixeira, professor of the Department of Sociology at the University, explains to Ansa of Brasilia. “For this reason, among evangelicals, who are more tied to conservatism and the Christian right, the fear that the establishment of communism will ban religious communities weighs much more than among Catholics”. Bolsonaro then has at his side the main neo-Pentecostal pastors of the country, such as Silas Malafaia, head of the Assembly of God Victory in Christ, and the tycoon Edir Macedo, owner of tv Record (specialized in very popular religious soap operas) and leader of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God. And in fact, evangelical churches throughout the country have become the main bastions of the Bolsonaro campaign: from here the right-wing leader (among the most discussed in recent South American history) has spread his electoral campaign based on the triad God, country and family. He also said that Lula intends to close all the temples once at the head of Brazil: which is not true.
Catholics with Lula
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On the other hand, Teixeira recalls that there is a large Catholic public – the so-called “charismatics” – who underwent “indoctrination in the period in which the country was crossed by Liberation Theology”, and which manifest a progressive tendency focused on defense of the oppressed. The same basic ecclesial communities, groups led by Liberation Theology and widespread in Brazil in the 70s and 80s, were important in the founding of Lula’s Workers’ Party (PT) and in the process of capillarization of force left politics on the territory. “There is a part of Catholicism that has focused on welcoming the most vulnerable, which makes their vote more oriented towards progressive agendas,” says the anthropologist. Given the polarization, Teixeira does not rule out that a possible victory by Lula could lead to acts of civil disobedience in various segments of society, including among the evangelicals “closest to the great churches and leaders who s they support Bolsonaro and focus on political panic “.