Brazil Elections 2022: Defeating Bolsonarismo is going to be much more difficult than we imagined | International

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In 2018 we thought that Bolsonaro could not win the elections. He won them. We were wrong. In 2022 we thought that Bolsonarism had weakened. He came back strong and tough. We were wrong again. The fact is that we do not want to understand a reality that insists on imposing itself: Bolsonarism has taken root in Brazil, it is here to stay and it represents millions of Brazilians, their desires, their fears, their hopes. If we want to stop making mistakes, we have to assimilate this. We must begin to judge and interpret Bolsonarism for what it is, an X-ray of a large portion of Brazilian society, conservative and, yes, often reactionary.

We also have to assimilate another thing, that Bolsonaroism is greater than Bolsonaro, it goes further. That, last night, was very clear and it was a slap in the face of the Brazilian left that still does not understand the strength of its opponent because they think that only Lullism has social penetration and scope. Bolsonaro's party, the Liberal Party, the PL, won the largest parliamentary base of all, 99 deputies. The Workers' Party, the PT, got 79. Of the 27 senators who were voting this Sunday, the PL got eight; the PT, four. Brazil is facing a conservative Congress that is going to prevent the advancement of any human rights guideline, which means that many more women will suffer sexual violence or that many more LGBTs will be killed because in a country like Brazil, conservatism translates in violence.

And what about the elections for state governors? More of the same. In the largest states of the country, representatives or allies of Bolsonarism stood out. In Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais they won in the first round; in São Paulo, Tarcísio de Freitas, Bolsonaro's former minister, will go to the second round with Fernando Haddad, Lula's former minister, but starts as the clear favorite. It is possible that, of the four most important states in the federation, Bolsonarism will keep three and the PT will only keep one, Bahia, which will also be defined in the second round.

Bolsonarism is very much alive. It is very much alive in what we could call an adaptive, more moderate, less radical Bolsonarismo, as is the case of the governors, who are a much more Light of Bolsonaro and who have even distanced themselves from him when they were interested. But a more hysterical, more delirious Bolsonarism is also very much alive, as in the case of folkloric figures of the most radical moralistic Bolsonarism such as the former Bolsonaro minister, Damares Alves, a fundamentalist evangelical who has been elected senator with a large number of votes.

The second round is going to be crazy. Lula starts as the favorite, with 48.4% of the votes compared to 43.2% for Bolsonaro. Lula is going to have to make a lot of effort and give the best of himself, take to the streets a militancy that yesterday was very flat and form an enormous arc of alliances with as many leaders as possible. And even this does not guarantee victory. The reality is that Bolsonarism has taken the place of a much more moderate and civilized traditional right that has disappeared, above all a victim of its own mistakes, internal wars and struggles of male egos. Something we have known for a long time is confirmed: without a moderate, competitive and democratic right, the extreme right roams freely. Let's even imagine that Lula wins the elections. He is not going to have an easy term because he will have to face Bolsonaro groups in Congress that will make his life impossible.

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In short, the truth is that we continue to be perplexed by the advance of the global extreme right. We do not want to understand that what they mean is so impregnated in society, but it is. You have to go down to the street more, you have to listen more. If we want to deal with the pushback we have to understand that the pushback is much bigger than we assumed and, yes, a lot of people are happy with it. The extreme right means much more than we would like.

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Nathan Rivera
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