March 26, 2023

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Brazil: Lula and Bolsonaro gain weight ahead of runoff

Brazil’s two presidential contenders, former leftist leader Lula and far-right outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro, won significant support on Tuesday for the Oct. 30 runoff, which was announced as tight.

The big maneuvers began two days after the first round in which Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, icon of the left, won 48.4% of the vote, better than Bolsonaro with 43.2%.

More than six million votes separate them – out of 156 million voters – and intense negotiations and bargaining have been conducted by the two candidates’ staffs to rally support, sometimes at the cost of a large ideological gap.

Lula received a rally on Tuesday, but half-heartedly, center-left candidate Ciro Gómez (3%), who came 4th in the 1st round, announced his rally for the former president’s Democratic Workers Party (PDT). for two terms (2003-2010).

“We held a leadership meeting of the Democratic Workers Party and I am making this video to say that I support this decision,” Ciro Gomez said on social networks after the PDT expressed its support for Lula.

“Given the situation, this is the only solution,” said this former minister in Lula’s government, though he did not name the former leftist president, with whom he has very strained relations.

“Both options (Lula or Bolsonaro) are unsatisfactory,” he said.

– “A New Relationship” –

The Bolsonaro clan has the backing of former anti-corruption judge Sergio Moro, elected senator from the state of Paraná (south) with 1.9 million votes in legislative elections organized on Sunday at the same time as the presidential election.

Lula’s “fallen” Sergio Moro, who was sent to prison for 18 months in 2018-2019 in a bribery case surrounding the Petrobras group, expressed open support for the outgoing head of state on Twitter.

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“I declare in the second round that I will oppose the PT (Lula’s Workers’ Party) plan and support Bolsonaro,” announced Moro, who holds the country’s precedent for the fight against corruption. The Supreme Court ultimately found him biased against Lula.

The former judge was a major holdout for Bolsonaro’s government in early 2019. But he walked out in April 2020, accusing him of interfering with police investigations in cases involving his family.

“It’s beyond all that. From now on, we have a new relationship (…) and many accounts to be settled,” Jair Bolsonaro from Brasilia promised.

The president also received the support of the governors of the southeastern states of Minas Gerais, Romeo Gema and Rio Janeiro, Claudio Castro.

The three major electoral colleges in Brazil are lining up behind Bolsonaro, as Rodrigo García, the current governor of São Paulo (not up for re-election on Sunday), announced on Twitter.

“We know there are many things that divide us, some things that don’t,” said Jemaa at the president’s side. “But Brazil needs to move forward, and I have a lot of faith in President Bolsonaro’s plans.”

– “Operation Open House” –

According to political analyst Thomas Truman, “Bolsonaro is turning his second round of campaigning into an open-door operation”.

“Instead of asking whether he deserves a second term (…), he is asking (voters) whether PD deserves to come back to power” and “is putting the PD years on trial,” he wrote in Veja magazine. Lula’s confounded party ruled Brazil from 2003 to 2016.

Finally, the candidate who came in 3rd place on Sunday, Senator Simone Tebet (4% of the vote), is highly respected, but has not yet spoken, although he seems to be clearly leaning towards Lula.

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“My decision has already been made,” he announced in the first round on Sunday evening, while noting that he would consult his party, the MDB, before making an official announcement. This centrist formation is marked by deep divisions and includes a powerful Bolsonarian faction.

Ciro Gomes and Simone Tebet received 8.5 million votes.