Brazil’s elections spread after a recent lightning television debate | Brazil

The two heavy political disputes vying to become Brazil’s next president converged during the last televised debate ahead of a momentous election with profound repercussions for the Republic of Brazil. Amazon rainforestThe global climate emergency and the future of one of the world’s largest democracies.

The former leftist president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva She faces right-wing incumbent Jair Bolsonaro in Rio at the studios of Brazil’s largest radio station, where polls have given Lula a weak but not hard-to-beat lead.

During the tough standoff, Lula Bolsonaro was accused of disastrously mishandling the Covid outbreak that has killed nearly 700,000 Brazilians, weaponizing organized crime by relaxing gun laws, and destroying the international reputation of the Amazon and Brazil. “Brazil is more isolated than Cuba… We have become pariahs,” said the 77-year-old leftist, criticizing Bolsonaro’s “crazy behaviour”.

Bolsonaro, who was visibly nervous and lost his footing on stage several times, has repeatedly called Lula a liar and highlighted the corruption scandals that have marred the 14 years that the former president’s Workers’ Party (PT) ruled from 2003 to 2016. Lula, You are a fraud,” Bolsonaro angered. “Your government has been a champion in corruption.”

“It’s a one-tone samba,” Lula replied, citing one of the most famous songs of bossa nova legend Tom Jobim.

In his closing statement, Bolsonaro became confused and announced that, God willing, he would be re-elected to the Brazilian Congress, where he had served for nearly three decades until he rediscovered himself as an anti-establishment outsider before being elected president in 2018.

This year’s election – widely seen as the most important since the end of Brazil’s 21-year dictatorship in 1985 – has divided Latin America’s most populous country, with about half of voters rejecting Bolsonaro and many rejecting Lula.

President Jair Bolsonaro, at the start of the televised debate on Friday.
President Jair Bolsonaro, at the start of the televised debate on Friday. Photo: Mauro Pimentel/AFP/Getty Images

Lula voters view Bolsonaro as an incompetent authoritarian who has destroyed the environment and Brazil’s standing in the world, spoiled its response to the Covid virus, and divided society with his radical, hate-filled rhetoric. Bolsonaro’s supporters consider Lula, a moderate president for two terms, from 2003 to 2010, to be a dishonest “communist” threat whose handling of leftist autocrats such as Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega mocks his claim that he is fighting for democracy.

On Friday, Bolsonaro’s main international ally, Donald Trump, waded into the debate, urging Brazilians to reject Lula, a “crazy extreme leftist who will quickly destroy your country.”

Lula’s supporters fear that Bolsonaro – a former army chief who admires dictatorship and has hinted he will challenge an outcome he considers “unnatural” – could spark Trump-style unrest if he loses. Those fears grew last week after one of Bolsonaro’s sons made unsubstantiated allegations of an election crime in which his father allegedly was a victim. “The biggest electoral fraud we’ve ever seen” Language almost identical to Trump’s after he lost the 2020 US election to Joe Biden.

In Friday’s debate, Bolsonaro appeared committed to respecting the result. He said, “He who has the most votes wins.”

Chart of Lula’s progress over Bolsonaro since May 2022

Whatever the prevailing aspect, tens of millions of citizens are likely to be shattered. “I will move to Finland the next day,” said Dennis Webberth, Bolsonaro activist and evangelical pastor, if Lula wins, his movement remains largely loyal to the president.

Henrique Vieira, a progressive church leader who supports Lula, said Bolsonaro’s re-election would give him a blank check to persecute left-wing rivals and possibly even try to shut down Congress.

“I think Bolsonaro’s re-election could deal a fatal blow to Brazilian democracy… He is a fascist and an authoritarian,” warned Vieira, who was recently elected to Congress for the left-wing Socialism and Liberty Party (PSL).

“Bolsonaro’s defeat and Lula’s election is a historic mission,” said Vieira, who has spent recent weeks struggling to dismantle Bolsonaro’s image as a “steadfast” Christian.

However, Lula’s allies have expressed cautious optimism in recent days, with polls indicating his lead over Bolsonaro has risen to around 6%.

“I feel a mixture of hope and certainty that we will win, but I am also worried. This is one of the most important elections in the history of Brazil,” said Cristiano Silvera, an MP from the Lula party in Minas Gerais. One of the country’s major swing states.

Supporters of Bolsonaro, 67, insist they will win, noting that first-round polls have reduced his support. Lula won the October 2 vote with 48.4%, but Bolsonaro fared much better than expected, receiving 43.2% instead of the 36% or 37% he had expected.

Former Brazilian president and presidential candidate Luis Inacio Lula da Silva on TV Friday night.
Former Brazilian president and presidential candidate Luis Inacio Lula da Silva on TV Friday night. Photo: Mauro Pimentel/AFP/Getty Images

Thomas Truman, a Rio-based political analyst, predicted an even tougher outcome than the 2014 election, when Labor candidate Dilma Rousseff beat her opponent, Esio Neves, by 51.6% to 48.4% — by a margin of 3.45 million votes. Neves’ party challenged the outcome controversially – and unsuccessfully -.

Truman said he believed Bolsonaro’s campaign had been hurt by reports that his finance minister, Paulo Guedes, had been considering a minimum wage freeze, and by Violent attack with grenade and pistol on the Federal Police by one of the president’s radical allies. “[But] It will be very soon. He added, pointing to deep-rooted popular hostility to Labor and Bolsonaro’s rush of government spending designed to lure poor voters through welfare payments. A Reuters analysis found that his administration had pledged to spend 273 billion riyals (£44.4 billion) in the run-up to the elections.

“I think it will be 51%-49%,” Truman joked. “I just can’t tell who.”

Outside the TV studio where Lula and Bolsonaro were crossing swords, there was no sign of the divide between their supporters.

Claudia Nunes, a 50-year-old physiotherapist who was part of a small pro-Bolsonaro rally, said she was convinced her candidate would win. “Our flag will never turn red,” she declared. “We hate Lola…. He’s a fraud and a deceiver.”

Across the street, Thulio Severo, a 37-year-old Labor activist, said: “We are really worried. We hold our hearts in our hands. But we are confident of victory.”

Nunes, wearing the bright yellow soccer jersey that has become a symbol of Bolsonaro’s far-right nationalist movement, was not convinced. She claimed that “Bolsonaro will win”. “Lola will only win if it is rigged.”

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