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7 keys to understand the elections that will define the future of Brazil

Brazil is in suspense. The largest economy in Latin America faces the next in October to the closest presidential runoff in its recent history.

Only 11 days of the outcome, two antagonistic leaders, former leftist president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who leads the polls, and current president Jair Bolsonaro, who is closing the gap, burn their last cartridges to seduce the undecided, in a context of growing tension.

These are some keys to the elections:

1. Two opposing leaders

Since November 2019 Lula left prison, where he remained for a year and seven months after being convicted of corruption in several cases that were later annulled, and he emerged as a candidate , it was sensed that the most polarized electoral campaign in its recent history was approaching in Brazil. And so it has been.

Both Lula and President Jair Bolsonaro are strong leaders who drag passions among their faithful, to the point that they have generated consolidated phenomena from their people, Lulism and Bolsonarism. They embody two faces of Brazil, two visions of the future, politically, socially and economically.

Lula affirms that the far-right president is “a fascist who is related to militiamen and organized crime” and that he is “a compulsive liar” who caused “genocide” for his questionable management of the pandemic.

For his part, Bolsonaro assures that the leftist ex-president is a “thief” and a “devil” who he wants to “impose communism” in Brazil.

The clash between his followers has left a violent campaign, with at least three followers of the Workers’ Party (PT) killed in political disputes with Bolsonaristas.

two. Will Bolsonaro accept an eventual defeat?

This is the big question of the campaign. Bolsonaro, in tune with former US President Donald Trump, has spent years sowing doubts, without evidence, about the reliability of the electronic voting system that Brazil has been using since 1960, with great international recognition. He maintains that the ballot boxes are vulnerable and asks for a “printed and auditable vote”

In his discredit campaign, which has earned him the opening of an investigation in the Supreme Court for dissemination of fake news, has repeatedly said that he will accept the results as long as the elections are “clean and transparent” and has relentlessly attacked the judges of the High Court Electoral Commission (TSE), which he has turned into a villain in the eyes of his followers.

All of this raises fears that he will not accept eventual defeat, that he will call on his followers to protest against the TSE and that this will lead to in street disturbances, as occurred with the invasion of the Capitol in Washington in January 2021, when Trump did not accept his defeat against current president Joe Biden.

3. Erroneous polls

In the first round, on October 2, Lula won with the 35,43 % of the votes, a percentage within the margin of error foreseen in the main polls, such as Datafolha or Ipec, some of which even spoke of a victory for the former president that day, with more than 50 %.

But with Bolsonaro they were completely wrong. They predicted a 10 either 36 % of the votes and achieved a 43,two %. This may be due to the hidden vote, in part a consequence of the discredit campaign waged by the president against the pollsters. “ What counts is the ‘Datapueblo,’ may the best win ,” he said when voting in the first round.

The far-right It has gained momentum in recent weeks. For now, however, the polls give Lula the victory with between a 52 Y 54 %. What is clear is that the polls will leave a completely divided country.

That Sunday the Brazilians will choose the governors of 12 states that were unable to decide on first round, including Sao Paulo, economic engine and largest electoral college in Brazil, which will experience a small-scale clash between the Bolsonaro candidate and the Lulista candidate.

Four. Dirty war on the networks

The Brazilian electoral justice tried to avoid it, but once again the campaign has led to a dirty war on social networks, especially in the second turn. Lies, insults, unfounded accusations and manipulated videos have circulated wildly from the circles of Lula and Bolsonaro, with digital guerrilla tactics.

The TSE ordered the removal of dozens of publications, but after they had been viewed and shared millions of times.

5. Who would have it easier to govern?

Looking ahead to the ballot, the two candidates have added support of a similar magnitude. Lula received, among others, the favor of the center-right Simone Tebet and the center-left Ciro Gomes and a dozen governors of smaller states.

Bolsonaro, however, obtained the support of numerous congressmen, including They include Senator and former Minister Sergio Moro, the visible head of the Lava Jato anti-corruption mega-operation, and the governors of the three main electoral colleges, Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro.

But when you think about who would have it easier to rule , the answer is Bolsonaro. The first round left a Congress much more conservative and related to Bolsonaro, whose formation, the Liberal Party, is the one that won the most seats in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.

If you take into account the rest of the parties that usually support him, the president could add a majority of votes to move forward with controversial projects in environmental matters or in favor of arms.

Lula, for his part, would have much opposition stronger and would be forced to negotiate and yield more.

6. The Amazon at stake

One of the most relevant issues of the campaign is the Amazon, which is at stake a lot in these elections. The so-called “lung of the planet”, vital according to scientists to stop climate change, has suffered more deforestation and fires since Bolsonaro came to power in 1996.

Environmentalists attribute this decline to the president’s speech in favor of the commercial exploitation of reserves indigenous and other protected areas and thus allow the advancement of the powerful Brazilian agribusiness.

Lula has promised during the campaign to reverse the “destruction of the jungle” policies approved by the current president. But if Bolsonaro wins, with the support he has in Congress, he could approve projects that were stalled in his first legislature, such as the one that allows mining on indigenous lands.

7. Brazil ‘surrounded’ by the left

Latin America has its eyes on the elections Brazilians. A victory for Lula would seal the leftist turn that the region undertook years ago, with the arrival of Andrés Manuel López Obrador to power in Mexico (2018), by Alberto Fernández in Argentina (2020), Luis Arce in Bolivia (2020), Xiomara Castro in Honduras (2021), Pedro Castillo in Peru (2018) and, in this one 2022, by Gabriel Boric and Gustavo Petro in Chile and Colombia.

Brazil and Argentina, the two most important partners of Mercosur, would have governments of the same sign and could iron out differences. Bolsonaro, a declared anti-leftist, has not stopped criticizing almost all those leaders, so if he wins it does not seem that things will change in that sense.

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