By Bradley Bernard
Chief Leader Writer
IN MANY ways, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva making a colossal political comeback to top Brazil’s first round of presidential voting – ahead of incumbent Jair Bolsonaro – is a remarkable political story.
Leftist ‘Lula’ – a former president who was dubiously jailed in 2018 – appeared to capture the minds and hearts of Brazilian voters longing for a return to social democracy,
But Sunday’s election, objectively euphoric as it should be, did not put Lula over the political line – and means the champagne is on ice for now.
The Workers’ Party candidate garnered 48.4 per cent of the vote compared to Bolsonaro’s 43.2 per cent – falling just short of the 50 per cent threshold needed.
It now sets up a tense second round, to which Lula gave a wonderful football analogy.
“We are going to win these elections – this for us is simply extra time,” he said on the eve of the election.
“I feel great hope that this election will be decided tomorrow, but if it isn’t we’ll have to behave like a football team when a match goes to extra time. We’ll rest for 15 minutes and then we’ll get back out on to the pitch to score the goals we didn’t score in normal time.”
Two fringe candidates – Simone Tebet, a socially liberal centrist who picked up 4.2 per cent of the electorate, and centre-left Ciro Gomes, who took three per cent – will likely fall in behind, if not endorse, Lula in the second round of voting.
But this election result can still be seen as a slight disappointment for the left in Brazil and Latin America in general.
With other nations turning red across the continent, progressives were keen to see an emphatic victory over the Trump-like Bolsonaro in the first round.
It’s true that the incumbent has taken steps in recent months to convince the poorest in Brazil to lend their vote to him. The equivalent of cost-of-living payments have been doled out in an attempt to shore up the working class vote.
It worked – to an extent. Bolsonaro admitted: “I understand there were a lot of votes (cast) because of the condition of the Brazilian people, who feel prices increases, especially basic products. I understand that a lot of people desire change but some changes can be for the worst.”
“We tried to show this other side in the campaign but it seems like it didn’t register with the most important layers of society.”
Regardless, there is a feeling that the right-wing in Brazil, despite years of environmental and economic havoc, is still alive.
Bolsonaro has threatened to declare the election null and refuse to leave his position in the pat few months.
Anything less than a resounding victory in the second round may cause civil chaos in Brazil.
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