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Bolsonaro or Lula: everything we need to know about the elections in Brazil

Brazil is in a high-voltage electoral campaign, with the far-right Jair Bolsonaro and the leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva as protagonists of the most polarized presidential dispute in decades.

The race pits a nationalist populist with an agenda backed by Christian conservatives against a former union leader and two-term president of the country (2003-2010) who was jailed for corruption until his convictions were overturned.

“It is the first time that we will have a dispute over legacies, between a president and a former president,” Adriano Laureno, a political analyst at the consulting firm Prospectiva, told AFP, describing the election as the most “polarized” since redemocratization (1985). .

Bolsonaro defines it as a battle between “good and evil”, pointing out that Lula’s return would install “communism” in Brazil. Lula promises to restore the social achievements for the most vulnerable classes that characterized his government.

This is what we know about the electoral process in Brazil.

When are the presidential elections in Brazil?

Elections in Brazil will be held on Sunday, October 2 to elect the president, the vice president and the National Congress. Also that day elections will be held to elect governors, mayors and Legislative Assemblies.

In the case of the presidential elections, a second round is contemplated for October 30 in case a winner is not defined in the first round.

How is the president elected?

The president and vice president of Brazil are elected simultaneously through direct suffrage.

Citizens can present their candidacies for the presidency and participate in the general elections, which are held on the first Sunday in October.

If a candidate receives more than 50% of the total votes, he is elected without the need for a second round. But if no candidate reaches 50% of the vote, a second round of voting is held on the last Sunday in October.

In the second round, only the two candidates who obtain the most votes in the first round participate. The winner of the second round is elected president of Brazil.

Since 1998, there has not been a president who wins in the first round. The last time it happened with the victory of Fernando Henrique Cardoso against Lula da Silva, when the center-rightist obtained 53% of the votes, against 31% of the former union leader.

published on August 18 showed Lula with 47% of the intention to vote for the first round against 32% for Bolsonaro.

The candidates for the presidency in Brazil

Although they are the best known, Lula and Bolsonaro are not the only candidates for the presidency of Brazil. This we know of each.

Lula da Silva

A former union worker turned Brazil’s most popular president before being jailed, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva returns to the political arena to try to regain power in October against his arch-rival, the far-right Jair Bolsonaro.

Favorite in the polls, Lula is leader of the Workers’ Party (PT, left).

In March 2021, he regained his political rights with the annulment of his judicial sentences, after being involved in “Lava Jato”, the largest anti-corruption operation in the country’s history, focused on a gigantic bribery network around the state-owned oil company Petrobras. .

The anti-corruption judge Sergio Moro had sentenced him in 2017 to nine and a half years in prison for obtaining a triplex apartment on the beachfront from a construction company in exchange for public contracts.

He was imprisoned in April 2018 for corruption and money laundering, after a media entrenchment in the Metallurgical Union in Sao Bernardo do Campo, in the industrial belt of Sao Paulo.

But that did not mean he lost influence in the PT or in Brazilian politics, although the scandal made him become a leader repudiated by a large part of the population.

Lula has always declared himself innocent and considers himself the victim of a political conspiracy to favor the far-right Bolsonaro, who used him as a scarecrow to win the support of the middle classes and win in 2018 with an anti-corruption speech.

Finally, Lula was released in November 2019.

After becoming eligible again, the former trade unionist kept his candidacy on hold for a time, while he took care of his international image with tours abroad.

Jair Bolsonaro

The president of Brazil, the far-right Jair Bolsonaro, remains firm after almost four years in power that have not altered his taste for outbursts, challenges to institutions and the polarization of Brazilian society.

This 67-year-old ex-captain of the army, nostalgic for the military dictatorship (1964-1985), has continued with his sharp speech in the current campaign.

Second in the polls behind former President Lula da Silva, Bolsonaro warns of a possible fraud, alleging flaws in the electronic system in Brazil without proof.

However, the president indicated on Saturday that he will accept the result of the October elections if he is not re-elected.

“We are seeking re-election (…) but in case (the victory) is not achieved, we respect democracy and our freedom above all else,” Bolsonaro said in a video posted on his social networks after following the step of a caravan supporting his re-election.

Bolsonaro had suggested many times that he might not accept the election result if he does not win, and has refused to answer when asked by journalists if he will accept defeat.

“I thank God for my life, for the mission (…) of being at the head of the Federal Executive. I am very happy with this despite the difficulty of being in the presidency, however, it is a mission,” Bolsonaro added in the video, in which he appears alongside his vice-presidential candidate, reserve general Walter Braga Netto.

Bolsonaro is a candidate for the Liberal Party, after having left the Social Liberal Party due to internal disputes.

An admirer of former US President Donald Trump, Bolsonaro continues to have the support of a large part of those who supported him in 2018: the influential arms and agribusiness lobbies and the vast evangelical electorate.

At the same time, it tries to attract the most vulnerable population with new social assistance.

Cyrus Gomes

Former deputy Ciro Gomes offers himself as a third way between Bolsonaro and Lula.

The formula of the Democratic Labor Party (PDT, for its acronym in Portuguese) for the elections next October was presented incomplete, since it is still betting on achieving an alliance with another formation that can give Gomes’ candidacy more muscle.

“Lula and Bolsonaro are the sides of the coin of mediocrity of an unscrupulous and incapable political class,” Gomes declared before thousands of PDT militants, to whom he advanced the tone of what will be a campaign that proposes the task of break the polarization between the candidates of progressivism and the extreme right.

“It will not be easy, but it is possible,” he added, apparently alluding to the polls. According to the Datafolha survey, it has barely 7% of the voting intentions.

In an outline of his plans for a possible government, he prioritized a profound tax reform, which imposes a tax on large fortunes and allows resources to be collected for social investment, in order to “end the tragedy of hunger.”

He also proposed “declaring the end of presidential re-election” or submitting some thorny issues to popular referendums, such as revisions to labor laws and the pension system.

“A national development project that puts, not the economy, but the Brazilian people on their feet again and restores hope to the poorest”, with free quality education and society at the center of public management, declared the Labor candidate.

The PDT is the only Brazilian full member of the Socialist International (SI), which brings together 170 parties from 120 countries and which it joined in 1989 by decision of its founder, the late Leonel Brizola, of whom Gomes is today considered a lucky of heir.

Although it became an influential party until two decades ago, it has lost ground and today has only 19 of the 513 deputies, 3 of the 81 senators, and only governs in the state of Amapá and in 314 of the 5,570 municipalities in the country.

On paper, little muscle to break the polarization of Brazilians around Lula and Bolsonaro, backed by broad and diverse coalitions and strong political machines with a national presence.

other candidates

The candidates that will complete the ballots are the lawyer and deputy Simone Tebet, from the Brazilian Democratic Movement; Vera Lucia Pereira, from the Unified Socialist Workers Party; Pablo Marçal, from the Republican Party of Social Order; the economist Sofia Manzano, from the Brazilian Communist Party, the businessman Luiz Felipe de Avila, from the New Party; Senator Soraya Thronicke, from Unión Brasil; former deputy José María Eymael, from Christian Democracy, the lawyer and human rights specialist, Léo Pericles, from Popular Unity, and Roberto Jefferson, from the Brazilian Labor Party.

According to the Datafolha survey, none exceeds 2% of the voting intentions.

With information from AFP and Reuters

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