By Bradley Bernard
Chief Leader Writer
JAIR Bolsonaro’s reluctant admission that he would accept the results of Brazil’s October election if it was “clean and transparent” should be taken with a pinch of salt.
The far-right President, who has miraculously survived numerous political and health-related scares, has been in the polling doldrums ever since former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva announced his candidacy.
Though it has narrowed slightly, Lula still enjoys a healthy 15 per cent over Bolsonaro, according to the latest survey by pollster Datafolha.
As such, the retired military man has already started battling with a trench mentality.
In an interview with TV Globo’s Jornal Nacional this week, Bolsonaro blamed the pandemic and the Ukraine war for his country’s struggles, while also highlighting the handouts recently given to Brazil’s 18 million poorest families.
But in reality, he’s fighting a losing battle. Lula – who ran Brazil during the booming 2000s – has provided an attractive alternative to those tired with the disastrous tenure of his far-right rival.
A congressional inquiry into Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic, which has killed over 680,000 in Brazil so far, found him guilty of “crimes against life”, while the federal police have also called for him to be charged for spreading Covid misinformation.
So while he has the entire government machinery at his disposal – something he could fully utilise during the cost of living crisis, as with the handouts – it’s looking more and more likely that Lula will rack up more votes on polling day in October.
Whether Bolsonaro will leave office is a different matter.
During Monday’s interview he insisted, without evidence, that there has been fraud in Brazil’s past elections. He has also spent much of the last year attacking the integrity of the electronic ballot boxes, as well as criticising the supreme electoral court judges.
There is now a distinct fear that, much like his former counterpart in Washington, Bolsonaro could already be preparing rather violently for his election loss.
Earlier this month he told agricultural leaders to arm themselves. Gun ownership has spiked in Brazil during his time in office, while he also has the backing of much of the military.
Pablo Nunes, head of the CESeC thinktank, told The Guardian that a January 6 situation was very much possible if he loses.
“He’s a cheap copy of Trump,” Lula said of his election opponent this month. It’s hard to argue that from an ideological perspective. One must hope that their final days do not mirror each other too.
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