After the first round of presidential elections, Brazilians woke up on Monday to another month of uncertainty in a deeply polarized political environment and fears of unrest.
Former president and front-runner Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, 76, missed the 50 percent plus one vote needed to avoid a runoff on October 30 against far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, 67. Lula won
8. percent of the vote in Sunday’s first round, followed by Bolsonaro with a much lower than expected 3.2 percent, who appeared to show strong enthusiasm for his conservative “God, country and family” policies.
Lula with 50 percent and Bolsonaro with 36 percent reached Sunday’s first round.
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Analysts say that the divisive president’s surprise appearance is likely to lead to tough times. “I think it will be a very tight campaign,” International Crisis Group Brazil consultant Leonardo Paz told AFP.
“Bolsonaro and Lula are coming… for each other and I think Bolsonaro is doubling down… saying the system is against him.”
Bolsonaro has repeatedly tried to challenge Brazil’s electronic voting system and questioned the validity of opinion polls that consistently placed him in second place.
Now that actual results seem to back up his claim, “more people… can believe what Bolsonaro says”, said Paz.
– “Devastated” –
The current president has repeatedly hinted that he does not accept Lula’s victory, raising fears of a Brazilian version of last year’s riots in the US Capitol after the former president Donald Trump. refused to accept his election loss.
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Bolsonaro “is very encouraged” by Sunday’s election results, said Michael Shifter of the Inter-American Dialogue think tank.
“It gives him momentum . because he exceeded expectations… Plays that the experts were wrong: “I have momentum and dare again in the second round.”
Late Sunday, Bolsonaro told reporters: “We defeated the lies of the polls.”
Passions are high on both sides for the next four weeks.
Lula’s failure in the first round leaves Bolsonaro with “one more month to cause confusion in the streets”, political scientist Guilherme Casaroes of the Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV) Sao Paulo Business School told AFP.
“Every doubt he casts on the electoral system works to his advantage… demobilizing voters so they don’t vote for Lula.”That would mean challenging Lula’s shortcomings, including his controversial corruption conviction – overturned in court, but not necessarily in the court of public opinion – and his 18 months in prison.
“Certainly he (Bolsonaro) is very capable of raising his base and they could interpret this (all clear) to go to Lula’s supporters… It cannot be ruled out,” Shifter said.
“There’s just a lot of anger and a lot of anger and a lot of mistrust, and it wouldn’t be surprising if some of that leads to riots,” he added.
Analysts say, however, that all the violence is likely to be isolated and unorganized, as it has been so far. – Shocked? -Sunday’s election result also suggests that Bolsonaro cannot be removed.
“Lula’s chances of being elected seem much smaller,” said Casaroes.
The wave of Bolsonari created by the results of the first round “will accelerate the campaign of the president and may help to demobilize the volatile voters of Lula.”
It also means that Lula will have to “condemn centrists and even conservatives much more aggressively in the next four weeks,” said FGV chief Oliver Stuenkel, which could hurt his standing among more radical left supporters.
On the contrary, the disappointment of Lula’s supporters can make them happy even before the next round.
“People who maybe didn’t vote because they thought Bolsonaro would lose… they can go” vote in the next round, Paz said. Casares added: “Those who really care about the country’s democracy must get off the sofa. Occupying public space against a strengthened Bolsonarism may be difficult, but it is the only way to prevent the consolidation of Bolsonaro’s long-term authoritarian project. Totally levels.”
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