The dance begins to find out which company each one will have in the second round of the Brazilian elections. The candidates who will fight on the 30th in the final duel, the leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and the far-right Jair Bolsonaro, have begun to gain valuable support that each will add to the millions of votes obtained on Sunday. Ciro Gomes’s party, which came in fourth place (3%), announced on Tuesday that the leadership had unanimously decided to join Lula’s candidacy. This Wednesday, former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso has also announced his preference for his historical rival. “In this second round I vote for a story of struggle for democracy and social inclusion”, he has advanced through Twitter. His opponent, Bolsonaro, has scored the same by getting the support of the governor of Minas Gerais, the third most important state in Brazil, which is also the thermometer of the presidential elections. Whoever wins Minas reaches the presidency. Less crucial, but also weighty, is that the governors of both Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo have publicly sided with him.
Sunday’s were the most polarized elections in Brazil. Nine out of ten voters opted for the favorite duo: Lula, the man who governed between 2003 and 2010, or Bolsonaro, the current president. That is why the votes that are now to be distributed are few and extremely appreciated. It remains to be seen who the third-placed Simone Tebet (4.1%) supports, who points to Lula but has not announced it.
Lula won the first round but by a much narrower margin than the polls had anticipated. They underestimated Bolsonaro. The leftist, who runs at the head of a coalition made up of the Workers’ Party (PT) and other formations that includes the center right, achieved 48.4%. The leader of the Brazilian extreme right, 43%, notably more than forecast.
Ciro Gomes, known simply as Ciro, is another veteran of Brazilian politics, this was his fourth attempt to reach the Presidency. “In these circumstances it is the only way out”, he has said in a video about supporting Lula, whom he does not mention by name. Although he was Lula’s minister and his program contains center-left proposals, in his effort to stick his neck out between the two favorites, he campaigned brutal attacks against both. And the calls of Lula’s PT for a useful vote triggered Gomes’s indignation to unsuspected limits: “I am amazed at the lack of scruples of Lula and the PT. They want to exterminate me. (…) They have no shame, they are Nazis, ”he declared last month.
Gomes’ relationship with Lula soured long ago. He stood out in the 2018 elections. His party only offered the PT its “critical support” at the last minute. And to the outrage of a large part of Brazilian progressives, Ciro himself took a plane and left for Paris so as not to vote. The matter is meat meme still today. Now, in a debate, Lula offered to sit down and talk to avoid another frightening of Europe.
On the other side of the ring that Brazil has become, Bolsonaro, who this Tuesday has dealt the first blow. Earlier in the day he appeared in the presidential palace of Alvorada, in Brasilia, together with Romeu Zema, the recently re-elected governor of Minas Gerais, a state the size of Spain with the population of Argentina, which is the second with the most voters. In the current highly competitive scenario, Minas is an essential piece to reach the presidency.
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Zema has declared together with the far-right president: “We converge on many things, on others we do not, but now that Brazil needs to move forward, I believe much more in President Bolsonaro’s proposal than in that of the adversary.” For Bolsonaro, it is a “decisive” endorsement.
The signals that the mineiros emitted in the electronic ballot boxes on Sunday were contradictory. They re-elected Zema as governor with 56%, a businessman who won in the wake of Bolsonarism four years ago, but who had distanced himself from the president. And simultaneously, in the vote for president they gave Lula the victory over Bolsonaro with a result nailed to the national one, 48%-43%. FINISH
The ball is rolling again. The two candidates are holding meetings these days and seeking the necessary support before hitting the road again to give rallies. Well entrenched Lula in the poorer north and Bolsonaro in the richer south, the ultimate battle and rallies are likely to center on São Paulo, Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro.
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