Between Lula and Bolsonaro, nothing is decided in Brazil

Between Lula and Bolsonaro, nothing is decided in Brazil

Analyze. In Brazil, a few weeks ago, the thing seemed understood: Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, 76, leader of the left on the return, was going to make short work of far-right president Jair Bolsonaro during the ballot on Sunday 2 October.

The polls gave him a clear winner in the first round. How could it be otherwise? Lula, “world’s most popular politician”in the words of Barack Obama, in 2009, remains an exceptional tribune coupled with an outstanding strategist, today contesting his sixth presidential election at the head of a very broad coalition. Quite the opposite of a Bolsonaro, divisive, discredited, disorderly, rejected by the elite and by a majority of the opinion.

Except that… in recent days, the polls have tightened. They show a settling of Lula and a clear rise of Jair Bolsonaro. The leader of the Workers’ Party (PT) would benefit from 43% to 47% of voting intentions, against 32% to 37% for the far-right leader, i.e. 5 to 10 points more than a few months ago . Not enough to overturn the table. But enough to blow a wind of concern on the left.

It is clear the extraordinary resilience of the master of Brasilia. Demonstrations, threats of dismissal, commission of inquiry, corruption scandals, serial diplomatic incidents, fires in the Amazon, Covid-19, economic crash… in four explosive years, Bolsonaro will have survived almost everything. Flag bearer of a fundamental movement in Brazilian society, he proved to be a shrewd political animal and a formidable tactician.

Launched in the race for his re-election, the president benefits from notable assets. First of all, an over-motivated, well-organized militant base that will follow him to the end, wherever he goes. Then, an unparalleled strike force online: nearly 50 million subscribers in total on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Telegram, against barely 15 million for Lula. A master weapon, in a Brazil ultra-vulnerable to “fake news”, where seven out of ten inhabitants say they get information via social networks.

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Thanks to the intervention of evangelical pastors, Jair Bolsonaro has effective relays within the popular categories. Conservatives, the latter are overwhelmingly in favor of him. Last asset, and not least: the federal machine and its unlimited resources. On the eve of the election, Bolsonaro had a package of measures adopted, known as “PEC sweets”, or 8 billion euros in aid for the most modest. What reinforce its popularity with the victims of the economic crisis.

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