Another Stress Test For Democracy: The Imminent Election Cri...| MENAFN.COM

Wednesday, 07 December 2022 07:29 GMT

Another Stress Test For Democracy: The Imminent Election Crisis In Brazil


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(MENAFN- The Conversation)

Brazilians have gone to the polls to cast their ballots in the first round of the country's presidential election. , so there will be another round of voting on Oct. 30, 2022.

Candidates need more than 50 per cent of the popular vote to become president in Brazil. Polls predicted that Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the former president of Brazil known widely as Lula, . But the polls were wrong, and .

It's unclear who will win in the second round, but one thing is obvious: Bolsonaro's brand of right-wing conservatism is growing, and so is its threat to democracy.

The first round of votes saw a rise in strength in right-wing nationalism in Brazil. Most . The second round of voting will pit the two candidates' competing ideologies against each other: one relies on hope and optimism, and the other depends on violence and threats.

Happier under Lula?

“When I was president, even you were happier,” who questioned his motives for re-election.

This simple message seeks to make Brazilians nostalgic for a time of growth, when the country was the . Lula helped lift , grew the Brazilian middle class and championed minorities. During Lula's mandate, giant , which brought an economic bonanza.

Happiness and nostalgia are Lula's main arguments in opposing Bolsonaro. However, relying on emotions alone will not win the second round, so Lula has pivoted and broadened his political tent.


Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva smiles to supporters after general election polls closed in São Paulo, Brazil, on Oct. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

He continues to move closer to the centre to capture enough votes to win. Bolsonaro continues to double down on his nationalist approach, spread misinformation and cast doubt on the electoral system.

In 2018, Bolsonaro ran on an anti-Lula campaign. He was elected to fight growing corruption and . He pushed nationalistic rhetoric and promoted , aiming to focus on supposedly traditional family values.

He mobilized a large base of devoted followers and won over skeptical voters due to the alleged corruption in left-wing parties. He also capitalized on“fake news,” and . He was successful in polarizing the country.

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A disappointment

However, Bolsonaro failed to live up to expectations during his first term. The ; he could not form a strong coalition in congress and his .

Worst of all, , contributing to the deaths of more than . This is a , and failing to win in the first round shows that many voters aren't forgiving him.

In Brazil, that in the first round, the electorate chooses the candidate they want, and in the second round, they reject the one they do not want.

This concerns Bolsonaro's strategists as that 52 per cent of participants rejected Bolsonaro, while Lula was rejected by only 39 per cent of the electorate.


Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro gestures during a news conference after general election polls closed in Brasilia, Brazil, on Oct. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres) Won't accept election results

Even if he loses, Bolsonaro has made it clear that he has no intentions of leaving quietly. Bolsonaro has rolled out a strategy for contesting and denying the election results, influenced by his and inspired by the former president's tactics.

The president sees only three possible future scenarios:“Prison, being killed or victory.”

He uses this as a rallying call and asserts that victory is the only possible outcome. He spreads conspiracies and casts . He stokes fear by painting his opponent as an illegitimate criminal who could only win a fraudulent election.

Days before the first round, the and labelled a Bolsonaro-fuelled conspiracy about apparent Lula connections to Brazil's largest criminal gang as fake news.

Bolsonaro has used the court's intervention to strengthen a narrative that there is an underlying institutional interest in denying him electoral victory.


Donald Trump gives a thumbs up before a dinner with Bolsonaro at Mar-a-Lago in March 2020 in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Going further than Trump?

Polarization is rising in Brazil, and democracy is under threat. Even if Bolsonaro loses the election, he still has the support of a large chunk of the population who are not going anywhere. He also has growing support in the Congress that share his ideology.

He seems inclined even to go where Trump did not dare by simply refusing to leave and declaring himself as a leader with the support of his military and congressional allies.

Bolsonaro's rhetoric and actions this election , which we believe they will overcome.

His presidency has been marred by disorganization and weak coalitions. But the damage he will inflict on the country could have a lasting impact on Brazil and embolden other world leaders to follow a similar anti-democratic approach to the transition of power, threatening other democratic nations.


The Conversation

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