Presidential elections in Brazil what is at stake in Lula

Presidential elections in Brazil: what is at stake in Lula and Bolsonaro’s (long) campaign for the second t

The intermediate round should last four weeks. Brazil begins a second period of campaigning on Monday October 3, the day after the first round of presidential elections in which former left-wing President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva won 48.43% of the vote. His far-right rival, outgoing leader Jair Bolsonaro, qualified on near-final results (in Portuguese) with 43.20%. A much narrower distance than expected.

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“It’s a new campaign that’s starting,” said researcher Christophe Ventura, research director at the Institute for International and Strategic Relations (Iris). How will this legislative period, which will last until Sunday October 30th, the date of the second round of the presidential election, develop? What will the main themes be? Franceinfo interviewed several Brazilian specialists on the subject.

A schedule has not yet been set

“Tomorrow I’ll start campaigning,” Lula launched Sunday night, promising “more travel and other meetings” by October 30. The calendar for the next four weeks has yet to be finalized, but we already know that if they agree to participate, there will definitely be a televised debate,” stresses political scientist Gaspard Estrada, Latin America specialist at Sciences Po. And to evoke the communication of the candidates on TV at the rate of “ten minutes every day”. He therefore expects a “very dynamic, very tough election campaign” between Jair Bolsonaro and Lula.

“The candidates prepare their meeting and campaign calendars according to the results of the first round,” continues Frédéric Louault, professor of political science and co-director of the Center for the Study of the Americas at the Free University of Brussels (ULB). . For example, according to the author of Brazil in 100 Questions: the Endless Genesis (ed. Tallandier), Lula has to seek voices among the non-voters, particularly in the southeast of the country, such as in the state of São Paolo. The outgoing president received 47.71 percent of the vote there on Sunday, reports the Brazilian newspaper O Globo*.

Risks of heightened tensions

Before the first ballot, the election campaign was overshadowed by isolated acts of violence, especially in the last few days before voting. At the end of September, a man posing as a Lula voter was fatally stabbed, and support for Jair Bolsonaro in southern Brazil followed the next day, France 24 recalls.

Should we expect more regular, less isolated violence over the next four weeks? “The risks remain very high,” replies Frédéric Louault.

“There are no real signs of a weakening of the election campaign. On the contrary, tensions could even increase.”

Frédéric Rouault, political scientist

at franceinfo

According to him, the Bolsonarist militants, already “very radicalized”, feel “consoled by last night’s results” and “authorized to exert pressure and intimidate the opposing camp”. However, a few “reassuring” points should be noted. Much of the more local polling in these elections ended last night, reducing instances of violence related to these more local campaigns. And “the first pass went without any major incidents,” emphasizes the researcher.

Beyond the campaign, the results of the second round will also affect the risk of confrontations. For Christophe Ventura, “the more we find ourselves in a scenario where the score is running low, the more it will be conducive to a scenario of non-recognition by Jair Bolsonaro”. The researcher, who invokes “the most radicalized and combative fringes of Bolsonarianism,” fears “a kind of nihilistic spontaneity that will take over the streets” if Jair Bolsonaro narrowly loses the election. In this case, the role of the army will be decisive in the outcome of the crisis.

The economy at the heart of the debate

As the Washington Post points out, these four extra weeks of campaigning will allow Jair Bolsonaro to highlight the improvement in some economic indicators between the drop in inflation and the unemployment rate. However, the country’s economic and social situation remains serious, with 15% of the Brazilian population now suffering from hunger – Brazil has also returned to the world map of food insecurity.

In this context, Lula will be able to highlight his record and in particular that of the “Bolsa Familia”, which helped lift millions of Brazilians out of poverty and hunger in the 2000s. Business promises to be at the heart of this campaign in the second round, “and there will be an balance sheet debate between the two leaders,” stresses Frédéric Louault. The latter recalls that Jair Bolsonaro recently increased aid to the most disadvantaged until December.

The issue of defending democracy and the rule of law will also be at the heart of the debates, adds Gaspard Estrada. For Lula, “this is the key question to attract the centrist constituency of Simone Tebet and Circo Gomes,” center-right and center-left candidates trailing the two finalists by 4.16% and 3.04% of the vote respectively landed. As for the outgoing president, he should “mobilize for conservative, religious and family values,” as he has done so far. “Lula is very reserved when it comes to these social issues.” Christophe Ventura recalls that conservative circles are very important in Brazil.

A very polarized duel

Until October 30, in this context of strong polarization, the outgoing president risks maintaining his vindictive tone, warn researchers interviewed by franceinfo. “It’s part of the radicalization dynamic of this second round,” sums up Christophe Ventura.

“It’s going to be pretty head-on between them.”

Christophe Ventura, political scientist

at franceinfo

According to the researcher, “Bolsonaro will continue to dig his furrow” and portray himself as “the man who represents the people within the corrupt establishment,” with Lula serving 19 months in prison on corruption charges before his conviction was overturned. As Gaspard Estrada points out, the result of the first round must “encourage” him on this path “because with this speech he got 43% of the votes”.

Will Lula respond with a harsher tone in the second round? “He has no interest in getting involved in the game of provocation. On the contrary, he tries to bring people together,” decodes Frédéric Louault. “He has to play rather unobtrusively, hold back and attack Jair Bolsonaro on his record.” The expert also notes that on a few occasions Jair Bolsonaro “started making this gesture of toning down his speech a bit”, although “of course there will be attacks. It’s his style.”