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Monday, December 5, 2022

Brazil elections: the extreme right is here to stay

*With a strong hate speech, Bolsonaro won a place in the second round supported by a conservative majority in Congress.

By Fernando Cruz

The Brazilian extreme right is here to stay. Unpredicted by the polls, President Jair Bolsonaro ?PL? showed strength beyond the small territory where he usually talks to his sympathizers. With 43.20 percent of the valid votes against 48.43 percent for Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva ?PT?, Bolsonaro not only guaranteed his participation in the second round, but also formed a fierce bench in Congress. His party, the PL, obtained the largest number of elected candidates, with 99 in the House and 14 seats in the Senate. 

No small thing considering all the havoc he caused in the country. Prey to a sudden amnesia, the Brazilian electorate elected former Bolsonaro ministers who were a complete disaster in his government. 

Examples: Eduardo Pazuello, the general who held the Ministry of Health, was the second most voted in the state of Rio de Janeiro as a federal deputy. During his tenure in office the number of deaths from COVID-19 increased almost 18 times in the country, i.e. from 15.6 thousand to 280 thousand deaths. 

Former environment minister Ricardo Salles, responsible for facilitating deforestation and illegal mining in the Amazon, was also elected federal deputy in Sao Paulo. 

The former Minister of Women, Family and Human Rights, Damares Alves, was elected Senator for the Federal District by an overwhelming majority of votes. 

Because of all this and the possibility of new alliances in the Southeast region, Bolsonaro arrives vitaminado to the second round, making Lula's task of defeating the extreme right much more complicated. His ally, the PT's candidate for the government of Sao Paulo, Fernando Haddad, finished the first round in second place behind Tarcísio de Freitas. The result surprised even the opposing team, which had expected a technical tie or a victory by a small difference. 

São Paulo is the richest state in the country and the fact that Haddad came in almost 7 points behind Freitas - 42.3 percent against Haddad's 35.7 percent - is a worrying sign for Lula. The former president knows that he needs to increase votes in the state to not only achieve victory for his candidate, but also strengthen his own candidacy. But Sao Paulo has never been governed by Lula's left and, in a polarized country like Brazil in 2022, that possibility seems remote, although not impossible. 

Lula had more than six million votes over Bolsonaro and came very close to settling the election in the first round. He needed a little more than 1.5 percent of the valid votes. But now the game starts from scratch and he will face the challenge of expanding his alliances with losing candidates such as Simon e Tebet ?MadB? and Ciro Gomes ?PDT? 

To get more votes, he will have to keep the campaign debate in the economic area, denouncing the crisis with the high rates of hunger ?33 million? and unemployment ?more than 10 million unemployed? to convince voters that Bolsonaro really represents all the evil the world sees in him. To keep the popular economy at the center of the debate, Lula will have to remove the false discourse of morality "for the family" of Bolsonaro and his allies.

The campaign on the horizon will be tough and the risk of possibly deadly political violence will be even greater. Bolsonaro and his supporters will be strengthened by the vote for the current president and will continue to attack institutions such as the Superior Electoral Court and opinion polls. On the other hand, the clandestine network of "fake news" will continue to spread the most absurd fake news on various topics, always with the aim of damaging the image of Lula and his allies.

This article was produced with the support of the organization Global Exchange in collaboration with Peninsula 360 Press.

About me: I am Fernando Cruz. I have been a journalist for 25 years. I have written mostly for local and national newspapers, covering politics and economics. I have also worked for the government and for organizations such as the United Nations (FAO).

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