Bolsonaro trails Lula in Brazilian presidential election
Over the past few weeks, energy prices have stabilized, inflation has come down and employment has increased. But that may not be enough to save Bolsonaro’s job.
Recent polls from Datafolha and IPEC show that Bolsonaro, 67, still trails his main rival in the October elections – former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, 76 – by more than 10 points. percentage. When the field is reduced to a one-on-one clash, the gap widens.
“Voters are saying ‘Too little, too late,'” said Thomas Traumann, a journalist, consultant and former spokesperson for former President Dilma Rouseff, Bolsonaro’s predecessor.
“After three years of Bolsonaro,” he said, “people are suspicious of his intentions and many of them think this is all just an election ploy.”
Lula and Bolsonaro swap religious barbs in battle for evangelical vote
Bolsonaro, a former army officer, was a fringe member of Congress pursuing a long run for president in 2018 when Lula, the presumed frontrunner, was jailed on corruption charges.
Bolsonaro ran against corruption in a scandal-ridden country and a stagnant economy. Rouseff was impeached for allegedly violating budget rules. His successor, Michel Temer, was accused of accepting bribes and laundering money. And dozens of officials in Brazil and across Latin America have been implicated in the Oderbrecht scandal, in which the Brazilian construction giant allegedly paid hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes.
Bolsonaro tapped into anti-establishment frustration to manage one of the great electoral upheavals in the largest country in Latin America,
But now Lula is out of prison, his conviction overturned and Bolsonaro struggles, unable to overcome the scars caused by his chaotic handling of the coronavirus and multiple corruption investigations in his own administration.
At the height of the pandemic, Bolsonaro called covid-19 a “little flu” and promoted the unproven and possibly harmful remedy hydroxychloroquine. He expressed his skepticism about vaccines – he suggested they could get women to grow beards and turn people into crocodiles – in a country that has embraced them. Brazil has recorded more than 34.5 million cases and 684,000 deaths. Both are assumed to be undercounts.
Polls now show that more than 40% of Brazilians rate the Bolsonaro administration as “bad” or “very bad”.
He tried to win back voters with government spending. In August, it began disbursing $120 a month in cash to 20 million families through Auxilio Brasil – Brazil Aid.
Struggling in the polls, Brazil’s Bolsonaro is courting a surprising new demographic: the poor
Jorciely Carvalho, a 28-year-old street vendor in Sao Paulo, says government aid since the start of the pandemic has helped her family meet basic needs.
But as food prices have soared this year – milk, for example, has risen 79% in the past 12 months – life has gotten harder for Caravalho, her husband and three-year-old daughter. . She can no longer cover the cost of the ingredients she needs to sell desserts, her second job.
Bolsonaro, she said, is an “incompetent person who made a terrible government for the most needy in our country”, and she will not vote for him.
The race has tightened up a bit. Datafolha recorded a shrinkage of 5 points from June to this month. But with the first round of elections scheduled for October 2 and polls showing that most Brazilians have made up their minds, time could be running out for Bolsonaro.
“This election has been a rejection battle, and it seems the people are rejecting Bolsonaro more resoundingly,” said Mauricio Moura, founder of polling firm IDEIA Big Data. “The financial assistance provided by Bolsonaro is simply not enough to minimize negative sentiments about the overall economic environment.”
If no candidate wins a majority in the first round, the top two will face each other in a second round on October 30.
Lula, a former labor leader, served two terms as president from 2003 to 2010, when his social programs, largely funded by a regional commodity boom, helped lift millions out of poverty. Lawyer Marco Aurelio Carvalho, one of Lula’s top advisers, said his “comfortable” lead reflects recognition that Brazilians “now live in a very different country” from the one he left.
“Now we are an outcast,” Carvalho said. He said Bolsonaro’s aggressive and often profane manner, and his attacks on women and journalists, have left people “tired of this war”.
Bolsonaro’s chief of staff challenges polls. Ciro Nogueira said internal surveys commissioned by the center-right Progressive Party show a much tighter race, and he is confident Bolsonaro will take the lead “in the next 10 days”.
Lula’s campaign missteps beg the question: Has he lost his touch?
Nogueira acknowledged that the president inspires a high “rejection” rate, and said it was because he was an “unconventional politician who expresses a lot of what he thinks”. He touted what he called “unprecedented economic success”, with inflation falling and unemployment at its lowest level in at least five years.
Bolsonaro has tried to woo women, who make up 52% of eligible voters. But given his history of misogynistic remarks, that has been a challenge.
As a congressman, he once told a fellow lawmaker that she didn’t deserve to be raped. During the first televised debate of the current campaign, journalist Vera Magalhães asked about the country’s coronavirus vaccination rate.
“I think you’ll sleep thinking about me,” Bolsonaro replied. “You have a crush on me.”
Bolsonaro is increasingly relying on his wife to soften his image. First lady Michelle Bolsonaro has campaigned more actively in recent weeks, attending rallies and making television appearances.
She brought her own flair to the contest. She recently shared a video which showed Lula, a Christian, during a religious ritual of African descent and alleged that he was linked to “the underworld”. She said the presidential palace was “overtaken by demons” in previous administrations before he was enshrined on her husband’s watch.
Gabriela Sá Pessoa contributed to this report.