Brazil election results: Simone Tebet and Ciro Gomes, the most courted vote | International

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The candidates for the Presidency of Brazil, Simone Tebet and Ciro Gomes.AP

Simone Tebet and Ciro Gomes have the key that the next president of Brazil needs. Together they added 7.2% of the votes in the first round of the election. Tebet has shown signs of preferring Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and Gomes is a former ally of the leftist leader with whom he is now estranged. Although both have greater programmatic harmony with Lula, he remains to be seen at what price they sell their support and if his word is followed by voters. One month before the final vote, the race to court the centrist vote has already begun.

“We have a lot to reflect on, but we are not going to wash our hands,” Tebet declared on Sunday night. With 4% of the votes that earned her third place in the first round, the senator of the Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB) has given the leaders of her formation a maximum of 48 hours to make a statement. The MDB, heir to the only opposition party allowed during the military dictatorship, is inclined to grant its members freedom to vote, although Tebet has already hinted that he prefers Lula. In the candidate's circles there is talk of offering him a ministerial portfolio, according to the Brazilian media.

The 52-year-old senator and former university professor has campaigned seriously for politics. Her program combined liberal economic proposals, such as privatization, with progressive measures, such as the appointment of a parity government of men and women. In this balance game, she has managed to congenialize her support for agribusiness and environmental sustainability. The State that she represents, Mato Grosso do Sul, on the border with Paraguay and Bolivia, is eminently agricultural and livestock, but is proud of the Pantanal, one of the largest wetlands in the world.

Although Tebet's program has left and right components, its emphasis on democratic values ​​distances it from the far-right Jair Bolsonaro. In the last debate before the first round, dominated by insults and harsh tone, Tebet snapped at Bolsonaro: “Are we going to talk about Brazil? We are not seeing the presentation of proposals here, only mutual attacks to see who stole the most.” He also criticized Lula for the corruption scandals, but the exchange was less tense. The leftist was also very careful not to attack her.

The debates were what convinced Leandro Santos, a 24-year-old black man who works as a waiter in an expensive restaurant near Paulista Avenue. Before seeing her on TV, he didn't know who he was. "She was the only one who talked about politics, the one who showed the most assertiveness," he says. The percentage of votes that the candidate received seems "excellent" and he says that he imagines her as president in four years. As for the second round, she still does not have a decided vote: “Lula was in prison, while Bolsonaro did not have that. But I have to investigate more.”

Ciro Gomes, 64, will be a harder nut to crack. After knowing the results, which gave him 3% of the votes, the candidate of the Democratic Labor Party (PDT, for its acronym in Portuguese), a historical party of the Brazilian center-left, asked for "a few hours" to talk with friends and militants . “I have never seen a situation so threatening to our fate as a nation,” he said, without elaborating.

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The one who was Lula's Minister of National Integration between 2003 and 2006 has proposals similar to those of the Workers' Party (PT) and even more progressive, with a clear commitment to universal basic income. However, the relationship between Gomes and his former boss has never been so bad. Gomes has even branded him a "fascistoid" and has equated him to the current president. "Bolsonaro would not exist if it were not for the serious economic and moral crisis of the PT governments," he said last week, while trying to contain the flight of votes.

The harshness of the tone used by Gomes has caused discomfort among a part of the militants of the PDT who favored their leader getting out of the race to facilitate a victory for Lula in the first round. Gomes's position has opened cracks even in his family environment. In Ceará, a poor state in the northeast that the politician governed in the 1990s, his brothers campaigned with the PT's candidate for governor. An action that Gomes called a "stab in the back".

Whoever Tebet and Gomes support, Lula starts with an advantage due to the profile of the voters. According to a Datafolha poll before the first round, 31% of the insecure voters of Tebet and Gomes preferred the left-wing candidate, considerably more than those who doubted Bolsonaro. In addition, the opinion of the leaders is not decisive, according to Claudio Couto, a political scientist at the Getulio Vargas Foundation. “Voters are more concerned with their own opinion than with that of the leadership. I think that the majority will tend to migrate to Lula because of the concern around the democratic spirit in the face of the authoritarianism of Bolsonaro”, he points out.

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