The Speaker
Sunday, 21 July 2024 – 07:56

Everything you need to know about the Brazilian election

Brazil’s national election is heading for a runoff between its final two candidates: Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and the incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro. But who are these two presidential candidates and how will the election work?

The Candidates

Jair Bolsonaro

Jair Messias Bolsonaro is the current president of Brazil, who attained victory in the 2018 national election and is known for his far-right and populist political ideology. After a long period of economic depression throughout the 2010s, Brazil elected the ex-military officer Bolsonaro, a self-proclaimed “anti-establishment insurgent candidate with little concern for political correctness”. Nicknamed the ‘Trump of the Tropics’, Bolsonaro has had a turbulent four years as president of South America’s largest country. His disdain for the environment in particular has proved to be a broadly unpopular political position, turning a blind eye to illegal logging and overseeing the destruction of thousands of square miles of the Amazon rainforest as a result of forest fires in 2019 and the clearing of protected land.

However, it was his grossly inadequate response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 that has perhaps sealed his unpopularity in this year’s election. Bolsonaro repeatedly downplayed the seriousness of the virus, infamously equating it to the common cold and publicly slandering mask wearers. Even after contracting the virus himself on several occasions, he continued to socialise with the public and officials, whilst simultaneously claiming the benefits of the unproven drug Hydroxychloroquine against COVID-19.  As a result of his and the Brazilian government’s lack of serious action, Brazil now maintains the second highest death count from COVID-19 in the world after the United States, and around 700,000 Brazilians have died from the virus.

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula)

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is a long-standing left-wing Brazilian politician and a previous President of Brazil from 2002 to 2010, leading the Brazilian Worker’s party. Whilst his time as President proved to be a positive regime (reducing poverty and growing the economy), many felt he had not done enough to combat the rampant violent crime that had consumed Brazil at the time. This was underpinned by claims in 2005 that his party was implicated in bribery and illegal campaign financing. Despite this, he won the subsequent election, and his party continued its success in the 2010 and 2014 elections even after Lula was constitutionally forced to stand down as leader.

Lula aimed to stand yet again for the presidency in 2018 as the country’s two-term limit is for consecutive campaigns and not a lifelong limit. However, he was not permitted due to further corruption charges which turned many voters to support Bolsonaro instead. In 2021 these charges were annulled by the Brazilian Supreme Court which stated he never should have been tried.

How will the election work?

Over the weekend the first round of voting took place in Brazil, with Lula taking 48% of the vote and Bolsonaro exceeding initial polling expectations and winning 43%.

The Brazilian electoral system is designed so that if no candidate wins more than 50% of the ballots in the first round, a second-round runoff election will take place four weeks later – much like in France. Voters who opted for a third-party option will now have until the end of October to decide which of the two final candidates to elect as their next President.

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