Brazil’s former left-wing president, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, is nearing a stunning political comeback, with polls suggesting he is on the verge of defeating his far-right rival Jair Bolsonaro in Sunday’s election.
On the eve of the polls, she indicated that Lula was on the verge of securing the overall majority of votes that would secure him a first-round victory against the incumbent of the Brazilian radical, whose disastrous Covid response, the attack on the Amazon, and nasty threats to democracy have alienated more. More than half of the population.
I will win this election to give people the right to be happy again. Lula, 76, told reporters Saturday during a visit to Sao Paulo – one of the three main battlegrounds in the elections, along with the states of Rio de Janeiro and the state of Rio de Janeiro. Minas Gerais.Read:Parents welcome twins from embryos frozen in 1992
Jose Roberto de Toledo, a political columnist for news site UOL, said Lula would undoubtedly take the lead when 156 million citizens voted in what is considered the most important Brazilian election in decades.
Opinion polls give the left-wing veteran a 14-point lead over Bolsonaro, a hard-line nationalist who maintains the support of about a third of voters, including many evangelical Christians and members of Brazil’s largely white social elites.
But Toledo feared Lula might have just under the 50% needed to avoid a violent runoff against Bolsonaro on October 30, opening the door to a month of uncertainty and political violence.
“I think it’s more likely that there will be a second round,” Toledo said, warning of “horrific” consequences if that happened, given the wave of attacks and killings that marred the run-up to the election.Read:Cost of living crisis: Southampton woman shares her money saving tips
“If there was a second round it would be much worse than it has been so far. That would mean four weeks of blood,” Toledo warned, adding, “I hope I’m wrong.”
If Lula does indeed win, it would be a previously unimaginable political revival of a former factory worker and union leader who became Brazil’s first working-class president in 2002.
Lula stepped down after two terms in 2010 with an approval rating of close to 90%. But the following decade saw the involvement of the Workers’ Party (PT), which helped embroil itself in tangled corruption scandals, accused of having plunged Brazil into a brutal recession.
Lula’s seemingly irreparable downfall took hold in 2018 when he was jailed on corruption charges and barred from running in that year’s election, which Bolsonaro won. Lula’s 580-day prison sentence seemed to be the sad end of a fictional life that catapulted him out of rural poverty to become one of the world’s most famous leaders.
But Lula was released in late 2019 and his conviction was overturned on the grounds that he had been unfairly tried by Sergio Moro, a right-wing judge who later took up a position in Bolsonaro’s government.Read:Trump’s lawyers are ordered to make public whether they believe the FBI planted evidence
Lula, who first ran for the presidency in 1989, announced his sixth presidential run in May, vowing to defeat Bolsonaro by launching “the greatest peaceful revolution the world has ever seen.”
Lula’s victory would mark the latest in a string of victories for the rising Latin American left, which saw former fighter Gustavo Petro claim power in Colombia in June, and former student leader Gabriel Borek was elected president of Chile last December. Since 2018, leftists have seized power across the region, from Argentina to Peru and Mexico.
Lula’s supporters are thrilled with their leader’s rebirth and his vows to wage a war on poverty and hunger in a country where 33 million people struggle to eat. During his two terms in office, Lula won international plaudits for using the commodity boom to fund welfare programs that helped tens of millions escape poverty.
“After he left power, everything prevailed,” said Irace Batista, a 58-year-old housewife who was among thousands of supporters at a recent Lula rally in Rio.
Her friend Clelia Maria da Silva agreed, saying: “If only for one of the people, just like us…all Bolsonaro knows is to swear to the people.”
Environmental activists and indigenous peoples hope that Lula, who has pledged to fight deforestation and eradicate illegal gold mining, will halt the assault on the Amazon that began under Bolsonaro. “With Bolsonaro we die, with Lula we live,” said the indigenous rights group Obi, co-founded by recently murdered activist Bruno Pereira.
This optimism eases tension over how Bolsonaro, a former soldier known for his admiration for dictators such as Chilean general Augusto Pinochet, would react if he lost. Some fear that a Trump-admiring populist will try to provoke unrest similar to the January 6 uprising in the United States. Bolsonaro has repeatedly questioned Brazil’s electronic voting system and refused to confirm whether he would accept defeat.
Stephen Levitsky is a Latin American specialist at Harvard University and author How do democracies die?He said he was alarmed by the possibility of violence or unrest in the coming days and weeks. “In the United States, one of the factors that prevented a slide into a deeper crisis was that the armed forces clearly would not intervene on Trump’s behalf. I think the military wouldn’t intervene either in Brazil, but it is less certain.”
Bolsonaro, after contesting whether he was plotting a coup during Thursday’s televised debate, declined to respond. He portrayed the election as a battle between the upright Christian Right and the evil and corrupt heretic left and claimed, without evidence, that Lula would close the churches if elected.
Benedita da Silva, a Labor congresswoman and Lula ally, said such divisive rhetoric and the explosion of fake news meant it was crucial that the election be decided now. “We can’t afford to prolong this any longer… Are we going to witness another month of torment and all this madness it stirs up?” She asked. “This country’s democracy is at stake…It is our duty to win on October 2nd.”
Despite the anxiety caused by the elections, Levitsky said there is also reason to be optimistic about the resilience of Brazil’s young democracy, which was re-established in 1985 after 21 years of military rule.
People add Brazil to the list of democratic backsliding in recent years as the Philippines, Indonesia, El Salvador, India and Hungary. But he said.
Brazilians have elected an autocrat – perhaps the most outrageously autocratic of all the autocratic presidents elected in recent years. But so far Brazilian democracy has persisted…Four years after Bolsonaro’s election, Brazilian democracy is not dead. It’s good news.”