Bolsonaro and Lula face each other in Brazil’s most polarized election campaign

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Bolsonaro and Lula face each other in Brazil’s most polarized election campaign

The left-wing candidate leads the current president in the polls, with whom he first coincided in an act this Tuesday

Brazil this Tuesday entered a high-voltage election campaign that will measure current president, Jair Bolsonaro, and ex-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva amid strong polarization. The left-wing leader leads Bolsonaro in the polls by more than ten points (44% compared to 32%, according to a survey by the IPEC consultancy on Monday).

The first round of the elections is on October 2. In the event that neither candidate achieves an absolute majority – something that has not happened in the 21st century – the second round would take place on October 30. More than 156 million Brazilians are being called to the polls to also renew the Chamber of Deputies, a third of the Senate, the governors of the country’s 26 states and the state’s legislative chambers.

The first day of the campaign left an unprecedented image. Despite decades in politics, the two candidates had never physically met. They did it in the country’s capital, Brasilia, in a tribute of high symbolic value: the inauguration of the President of the Superior Electoral Court, Alexandre de Moraes. The body will be the third protagonist of this election, as Bolsonaro, in the purest style of former US President Donald Trump, to whom he has often been compared, has for weeks cast the specter of electoral fraud through the voting system.

“We are the only democracy in the world that announces the election results on the same day with agility, security, competence and transparency,” Moraes told the far-right president, in a clear allusion, albeit without quoting him.

The inauguration act also left another curious picture, that of the first meeting in six years between former president Dilma Rousseff and her successor, Michel Temer, who was her vice president. Rousseff, the first female president in the country’s history, was removed from office, causing her party, the Workers’ Party (PT), to lose power after 13 years. Temer, centre-right, replaced her as head of Brazil

Prior to the event, both candidates held their respective inaugural meetings. And the two chose the podium well. Bolsonaro, 67, did so in Juiz de Fora, a town where he was stabbed by a mentally ill person in 2018 before the elections that brought him to power. “The city where I am reborn,” he proclaimed in a speech filled with patriotic statements and allusions to God and the Bible.

Bolsonaro is very strong among the important evangelical community. In fact, he seemed surrounded by pastors and religious leaders. Under the motto ‘God, country and family’, he concluded his speech by inviting those present to pray the Our Father. The president presents the election as a duel “between good and evil”, pointing out that Lula’s return would install “communism” in Brazil.

For his part, Lula, 76, addressed his audience from a car factory in São Bernardo do Campo, in the metropolitan region of São Paulo, where he became a union leader in the 1970s. His campaign will focus on winning the workers’ votes and put the PT back in power. One of his critiques of the current president has been his appalling management of the coronavirus pandemic — even bordering on denial — which has claimed 680,000 deaths in Brazil.

Lula, who ran the country for two terms (2002-2010), regained his political rights in 2021 after his convictions in the ‘Lava Jato’ macro-corruption case were overturned, with repercussions in several Latin American countries.

According to several surveys, the main concern of Brazilians is the economic situation, with high unemployment and an inflation rate of almost 12%. In recent weeks, Bolsonaro’s government has approved a series of measures to ease citizens’ pockets, such as cutting fuel prices or increasing social support.

Source: La Verdad

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