The electoral campaign for the presidential elections on October 2 in Brazil has officially started this Tuesday. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva continues to lead in the polls, but President Jair Bolsonaro has improved in recent weeks. Lula leads the polls with 44% in intention to vote in the first round, followed by Bolsonaro with 32%, according to the latest ipec survey published on Monday. The third option, represented by the center-left candidate Ciro Gomes, stands at a distant 6% while Simone Tebet’s center-right option does not exceed 2%.
Twelve candidates have registered with the Superior Electoral Court to contest the presidency. None of the other eight reaches 1%, a fact that confirms that it will be a choice between two heavyweights of Brazilian politics. Although Bolsonaro is behind Lula, the current president has managed to reduce the advantage to 12 points. The trend responds to the fact that Bolsonaro has managed to improve the approval ratings of his government. In December, 19% of those interviewed rated the Bolsonaro government as excellent or good. In August, that rate rose to 29%, a difference of 10 percentage points.
Starting this Tuesday, candidates can hold rallies and ask for votes on social networks and written media. Election advertising on radio and television will begin in ten days. For her part, Lula has inaugurated the campaign with a video released at midnight on her social networks in which she asks for the vote to “change the life of the people again”.
Meanwhile, Bolsonaro plans to start his campaign in Juiz de Fora, the city where he was stabbed in 2017. Both Lula and Bolsonaro will have their first campaign events on Tuesday. The candidate of the Workers’ Party (PT) has announced a visit to a factory in the metropolitan area of Sao Paulo, a region where he began to build his political career in the 1980s as a union leader.
In the last month, the president of Brazil has increased his attacks on the electronic voting system. Bolsonaro has chosen to imitate Donald Trump’s electoral strategy in 2020 and the far-right candidate has repeatedly questioned the transparency of electronic voting in a country where trust in electoral institutions has never been in question.
The technical tests also deny the president. Last Friday, the Superior Electoral Court reported that evaluations of the voting system carried out during the week, including simulations of hacking attacks, found no flaws that could alter this year’s elections.
Among their constituencies they have also reinforced activism to remain in power. In recent weeks they have seen giant posters who contrast Lula with Bolsonaro as “bandit on the loose” with “bandit arrested”, “unarmed people” with “armed people” and “censorship” with “freedom”. A campaign that the Prerogatives, a group that brings together lawyers and jurists, denounced before the Superior Electoral Court as a defamation campaign.
“I am not afraid of losing the election, I am not worried about this. They say that I want to strike, if I wanted to strike, I would not be saying anything, I would let time pass and on the last day I would strike. What we want is transparency”, Bolsonaro defended himself.
The president’s running mate will be, in this election, Army General and former Defense Minister Walter Braga Netto, who in 2018 was appointed by Michel Temer as Comptroller of the State of Rio de Janeiro and in 2020 assumed the position of chief of the Civil House (Ministry of the Presidency), revealing the close relationship between the Armed Forces and the Bolsonaro government.
On September 7, the day Brazil celebrates its 200 years of independence, Bolsonaro has called a demonstration where the Armed Forces will play a leading role. This Monday, during the inauguration of the exhibition on the Bicentennial of Brazil in the Planalto Palace, Bolsonaro said that the demonstration will be “orderly, democratic and with the colors green and yellow.”
Lula’s electoral strategy
The PT candidacy is backed by ten parties, thus representing the largest electoral alliance in a country with a highly fragmented party system. Geraldo Alckimn, Lula’s historical rival, will be the vice-presidential candidate. The formula seeks to create an electoral proposal as broad as possible to compete against Bolsonaro.
Former President Lula has shown in these previous months that his strategy to face the campaign is based on being willing to dialogue with the sectors of the Brazilian center-right, but faithful to the social demands of his electoral bases. Lula has chosen not to erect a speech in revenge or hatred after 580 days behind bars for a conviction that ended up being annulled by the Superior Court of Justice and the political trial that in 2016 ended the government of Dilma Rousseff.
Since then, the former president has achieved victories in the Brazilian courts and currently has no open criminal case against him. Last Friday, Judge Ricardo Leite of the Federal Justice of Brasilia filed a complaint filed in 2017 against Lula for alleged obstruction of justice.