Thursday, December 1

Abstention, a growing concern in Lula’s campaign (but also in Bolsonaro’s)

Anxiety and a certain anguish: these are the symptoms reported by Brazilian voters when there are 12 days left before the second round of the presidential elections, which will be held on Sunday, October 30. There are plenty of reasons to doubt what the final results will be: whether former president Lula da Silva will be victorious or the victory will crown current president Jair Messias Bolsonaro, who aspires to continue another four years in the Planalto Palace. The distance between the two candidates has narrowed in the polls: Lula has 50% of voting intentions and Bolsonaro with 43%, according to the latest Ipec poll.

This survey reduces the difference between the two to 7 points, which in the first round reached 10%. The campaign committee of the leader of the Workers’ Party, which brings together representatives of the 10 parties of the Coalition of Hope, expressed its concern with a phenomenon that may affect Lula da Silva, if the electoral result does not finally coincide with what voters show in polls. The Ipec firm was one of the most criticized for underestimating support for Bolsonaro in the first round of voting on October 2.

The mystery of participation

In the first round of the elections, abstention reached 20.9% of citizens eligible to vote, the highest percentage since the return of democracy. In numerical terms, it represents the absence at the polls of 32 million Brazilians, who are distributed unequally according to their income: the lower the economic level, the greater the abstention, as it was in the cities where the former president won. Most of the Brazilians who did not go to vote in the first round belonged to the segments with the lowest rate of schooling and very low incomes. That conclusion was evidenced through a map of the electoral zones prepared by the ‘Lula’ campaign. There it was also seen that the northern and eastern regions of the country showed higher rates of abstention.

To combat these difficulties, the former president has visited the largest states in the Northeast and has asked governors and allies to facilitate free transportation on election day. This Wednesday, at a committee meeting, its members warned about the drawbacks. Legislators Manuela D’Avila, Randolfe Rodrigues, Guilherme Boulos and André Janones agreed that “with less than two weeks to go before the elections, a strong boost must be given to communication with voters through social networks” and they suggested that it is necessary to “go to the communicators, who are our infantry (in this war)”. According to them, they are “in front of a powerful enemy that uses a super specialized structure of fake-news”. For everyone, “it’s not just about an election. More than that, civilizational values ​​are at stake”.

Elections on a festive bridge

For the president’s side, much remains to be done in this week and a half that remains before the elections if they want to keep Bolsonaro in the Planalto Palace. In the headquarters of the head of state the alarm of abstention also sounds. The elections coincide with a festive date in Brazil on November 2. Brazilians with more purchasing power, among whom are the majority of Bolsonaro’s voters, tend to take vacations the five days between the Saturday before the appointment at the polls and the Wednesday after.

Election Sunday is right in the middle. The advisors of the campaign for the re-election of Bolsonaro have asked the governors of the Liberal Party, in those provincial states where the president won in the first round, to encourage people to vote. “They have to make voters aware,” they said. Deputies and senators who met with the party leadership pointed out that there is now a key slogan for voters: “Avoid traveling, because abstention can harm Bolsonaro more than his opponent.”

Some experts maintain that there is an abstention rate that would give the current president greater chances: “If the abstention level exceeds 24%, Bolsonaro’s chances increase,” said Mauricio Moura, director of the Idea Institute and professor of statistics at George Washington. University. Others consider that to win these elections, Bolsonaro will also have to fight for the vote of many followers of his opponent. The task does not seem so simple: 93% of those who say they will participate in the elections say that their decision has been made and they are not going to change it.