Two political heavyweights vying to be Brazil’s next president face a crucial election that will have a profound impact on the Amazon rainforest, the global climate emergency and the future of one of the world’s largest democracies. before the last televised debate.
Former left-wing president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva and far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro faced off in Rio in the studios of Brazil’s biggest broadcaster.The eve of the election poll gave Lula a narrow lead. .
In a sticky encounter, Lula catastrophically mishandles the Covid outbreak that killed nearly 700,000 Brazilians by Bolsonaro, loosening gun laws to arm organized crime, and destroying Amazon and Brazil. “Brazil is more isolated than Cuba….We have become marginalized,” said the 77-year-old leftist, accusing Bolsonaro of “insane behavior.” condemned.
Bolsonaro, who was visibly nervous and lost his footing on stage several times, repeatedly called Lula a liar and the corruption that tainted the 14-year rule of the former president’s Workers Party (PT) from 2003 to 2016. Emphasized scandal. , you are a crook, ”bouted Bolsonaro. “Your government has been a champion of corruption.”
“He’s a single-note samba,” Lula retorted, pointing to one of bossa nova legend Tom Jobim’s most famous songs.
In his closing statement, Bolsonaro was confused and re-elected by God’s will to the Brazilian parliament after serving nearly 30 years before reinventing himself as an anti-establishment outsider before being elected president in 2018. announced that
This year’s election, widely seen as the most important since the end of Brazil’s 21-year dictatorship in 1985, saw nearly half of voters reject Bolsonaro and nearly as many voters rejected Lula. It divided the most populous country in Latin America.
Lula voters see Bolsonaro as an incompetent authoritarian who has destroyed Brazil’s environmental and global standing, failed to respond to the coronavirus, and divided society with radical, hateful rhetoric. ing. Bolsonaro’s supporters see Lula, who served as his two-term president of the moderate party from 2003 to 2010, in a deal with left-wing authoritarians such as Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega to promote democracy. sees it as a rogue “communist” threat, ridiculing his claim to be fighting for
On Friday, Bolsonaro’s main international ally, Donald Trump, took part in the debate, urging Brazilians to reject Lula.
Lula’s supporters say Bolsonaro — a former army captain who admires dictatorships and has hinted at contesting results he deems “abnormal” — could trigger Trump-style chaos if he loses. fear of sexuality. Last week, after one of Bolsonaro’s sons used unproven allegations of election fraud to claim his father was the victim of the “greatest electoral fraud in history,” these concerns have increased.
At Friday’s debate, Bolsonaro appeared committed to honoring the result. “He who gets the most votes wins,” he said.
Whichever side wins, tens of millions of citizens could be devastated. Dennis Webers, a Bolsonaro activist and evangelical pastor, said he would “move to Finland the next day” if Lula won.
Henrique Vieira, a progressive church leader who backs Lula, said re-electing Bolsonaro would give him a blank check to persecute leftist rivals and possibly try to shut down Congress. Stated.
“I believe Bolsonaro’s re-election could deal a fatal blow to Brazilian democracy…he is a fascist and an authoritarian,” he said recently for the left-leaning Socialist Liberal Party (PSL). Vieira, who was elected to parliament in
“To beat Bolsonaro and elect Lula is a historic task,” Vieira said. Vieira has fought in recent weeks to dismantle Bolsonaro’s image as an “upright” Christian, using videos on his media, including street protests calling him an “antichrist”.
But Lula’s allies have expressed cautious optimism in recent days, with polls suggesting Lula’s lead over Bolsonaro has widened to around 6%.
“There is a mixture of hope and confidence that we will win, but there is also anxiety. This is one of the most important elections in the history of Brazil,” said Minas Gerais, one of the country’s key battleground states. Cristiano Silveira, MP for the state Lula Party, said.
The 67-year-old Bolsonaro supporter claims he will win, noting first-round polls underestimate his support. Lula scored 48.4% in his October 2 poll, but Bolsonaro far exceeded expectations, with 43.2% instead of the expected 36% or 37%. .
Rio-based political analyst Thomas Trauman predicted a tougher outcome than the 2014 election. At this time, PT candidate Dilma Rousseff beat his opponent Aesio Neves by 51.6% to 48.4%, leading by 3.45 million votes. Neves’ party controversially failed, but disputed the results.
Mr Trauman said Mr Bolsonaro’s campaign was driven by reports that his finance minister, Paulo Guedes, was considering a minimum wage freeze, and a complaint against the federal police by one of the president’s radical supporters. He said he believed he had suffered damage from violent grenades and gunfire. “[But] it would be very close. It’s too close,” he added, pointing to deep-rooted public hostility towards the PT and the spending spree of the Bolsonaro government, designed to lure poor voters with welfare payments. He had pledged to spend R$273bn (£44.4bn) towards the election.
“I’d say 51% to 49%,” Trauman joked. “I can’t say for whom”
Outside the TV studio where Lula and Bolsonaro are crossing swords, there was no sign that the rift between their supporters had closed.
Claudia Nunes, a 50-year-old physiotherapist who was part of the small crowd that supported Bolsonaro, said she was confident her candidate would win. ‘ she declared. “We hate Lula….he is a crook and a scumbag.”
Across the street, 37-year-old PT activist Thulio Siviero said: we have the heart But we are confident of victory. ”
Nunes, who wore the bright yellow football shirt that has become a symbol of Bolsonaro’s far-right nationalist movement, was not convinced. “Bolsonaro will win,” she insisted. “Lula only wins if it’s rigged.”