4 October 2022
If significant policy shifts occur during the campaign, some chart positions, based on speeches, parliamentary voting records and manifestos, may alter accordingly.
The pollsters got it half right. The Workers’ Party’s Luiz da Silva (Lula) indeed polled around 48 percent of the vote. What has taken the edge off his victory for his supporters is the entirely unexpected 43 percent that the incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro manged to achieve, necessitating a second round on October 30.
Bolsonaro’s Liberal Party — extremely economically liberal and decidedly socially illiberal — made unexpected gains in both chambers of Congress. This would mean a rough ride for da Silva in pushing through any progressive legislation if he becomes president. Almost inevitably Bolsonaro would outbluster his hero, Donald Trump, in declaring the election invalid and encouraging his supporters to take to the streets. The gun-loving God-fearing populist doesn’t hide his blight under a bushel.
Bolsonaro is widely disliked in the West on all points of The Political Compass, though not by the corporate interests that welcome his full-throttle commitment to unfettered market forces. He has demonstrated that, despite his divisive and coldly chaotic leadership, a very significant part of the domestic population can’t get enough authoritarian neoliberal government. The man who dismissed Covid as ‘a little flu’ and subsequently lost around 685000 citizens to the virus, has the support of 43 percent of the population. His Health Minister, a former army general who surrendered the country to Covid without a battle strategy, has been rewarded by the voters with another term in Congress. Bolsonaro’s Environment Minister is back there as well. He hasn’t burnt any political bridges: just more than a million hectares of the Amazon during the past year. Huge amounts of carbon dioxide are being added to the atmosphere, accelerating global warming and destroying biodiversity to a catastrophic degree. Bolsonaro, however, has been as scathing towards the environmentalists as he has been towards the LGBTQ+ community, indigenous minorities, and the poor — despite a massive and cynical pre-election hand-out during the cost of living crisis.
Da Silva, by stark contrast, has promised to end deforestation, and tackle the spiralling rich-poor gap as he did during his presidency in 2003-2010. (He was unable to run in 2018 because of a corruption conviction that has now been overturned). An old school social democrat with a trade union background and other parties well to his left, he is, mistakes and all, the more moderate and decent voice. His current urgings for calm and an end to quarrelling and violent political conflict are unlikely to be heeded in the run-up to October 30, nor, indeed, for a good many years to come.