On Sunday, more than 150 million Brazilians are summoned to settle one of the most polarized elections in the country’s history, but at the same time one with the clearest results foreseeable, according to polls that for months have not questioned the victory of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who could even win in the first round.
And the fact is that since the Workers’ Party (PT) candidate recovered his political rights after his convictions were annulled, there has been no poll that has not put him back in the Planalto Palace twelve years later.
Aware of this, the candidate for reelection for the Liberal Party (PL), Jair Bolsonaro, has focused his campaign on questioning the Brazilian electoral system and recalling the past with the Justice of his rival, while facing a steep fall in his popularity, always in question, although even more so after his management of the pandemic.
Brazil will decide its future at a time when it has to deal with record inflation rates, an inequality of previous times, unemployment, and the ravages of the pandemic, while there are fears that Bolsonaro will not recognize the election results, after he has been appealing on numerous occasions to the Army and casting doubt on the Supreme Court.
As many as eleven aspirants have been running for these elections. However only Lula and Bolsonaro show themselves as real options to get elected. The two of them engaged in a new bitter confrontation in the last electoral debate televised by the Globo network, the most followed in Brazil.
That was the last option Bolsonaro had to win the undecided voters’ ballot to at least make it to the second round on October 30. Lula, on the other hand, was confident of closing the issue and winning that useful vote that his team has been demanding from those who still trust in that weak third way headed by Ciro Gomes and Simone Tebet, with more media than electoral weight.
The latest Datafolha poll published this Wednesday reflects not only that Lula is close to 50 percent of the votes needed to win on Sunday, but that 46 percent of Gomes’ voters and 38 percent of Tebet’s admit that they could change their vote on Day 2, enough to decide the dispute.
Brazil experienced one of its most prosperous periods coinciding with Lula’s government between 2003 and 2010. With hardly any economic reforms, the great demand for raw materials from abroad allowed the former president to implement a series of social aid policies with which he managed to lift some 30 million people out of poverty. His reelection in 2018 seemed clear, according to the polls, but his conviction and subsequent imprisonment put paid to the PT’s intentions.
The big beneficiary was Bolsonaro, an old acquaintance of Brazilian politics who had been strolling for years through the country’s institutions under the acronym of the party that most and best represented his interests at the time. His promises of order in the streets – with the right to bear arms as a banner -, punishing the corruption of the PT and fighting the left for its anti-traditional and anti-conventional family policies managed to convince Brazilians.
Now, four years later, Lula promises to fight the economic crisis with policies to boost consumption, repeal the spending ceiling law and a progressive tax reform to tax large fortunes. Other promises include the complete nationalization of the electricity company Eletrobras, the launching of a major public works plan to generate employment and an end to the indiscriminate exploitation of the Amazon.
Bolsonaro for his part will continue with his plans to further privatize state-owned companies, such as Eletrobras, the postal service Correios and the always questionable Petrobras, after corruption ran rampant during the PT’s terms, with which he hopes to make possible one of his campaign promises, to have the cheapest fuel in the world.
Both have promised to increase investment in social policies to reduce inequality. On the other hand, the Amazon is the pending account of both. Although Lula’s rhetoric is different from Bolsonaro’s – the ultra-right-winger encourages the presence of illegal extractors of raw materials and is against the demarcation of indigenous lands – the PT candidate paid for his social policies thanks to the exports of Brazilian agribusiness, to the detriment of the native communities living in the region.
This Sunday Brazilians not only elect president and vice-president, but also the governorships of the 27 federative entities of the country, as well as the complete renewal of the Chamber of Deputies, part of the Senate and the representatives of the state legislative assemblies.