Brazil elections: who are the main candidates? | International

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Brazil, one of the largest democracies in the world, elects a president. More than 156 million voters are called to participate in the first round of the elections this Sunday, October 2. If none of the candidates gathers more than 50% of the valid votes, the two most voted will face each other in a second round on Sunday the 30th, a month later. For now, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and current president Jair Bolsonaro are the best positioned, although two other intermediate options seek to gain a foothold. In addition to the presidential race, the country renews the Chamber of Deputies in its entirety and a third of the Senate. The composition of these institutions will be key to carrying out the agenda of the president who is elected. Finally, elections are held for governors and legislative assemblies of the 26 states and the Federal District.

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, 76 years old (left)

Lula da Silva is the clear favorite to become president of Brazil for the third time. The latest polls give the candidate of the Workers' Party (PT) 47% of the support in the first round, 14 points more than his main rival, Jair Bolsonaro. During the campaign, Lula has raised the achievements of his government (2003-2010), including the escape of millions of Brazilians from poverty thanks to Bolsa Familia and other social programs. He now promises to raise the minimum wage above inflation and raise taxes on the rich.

Founder of the PT in the early 1980s, the leftist politician lost three presidential elections before emerging victorious in 2002. He left power in 2010 with extremely high levels of popularity, although his prestige later suffered blow after blow. investigations of the case car wash led to his conviction for corruption, and he spent 580 days behind bars. In 2019, he was released from prison and later the conviction was annulled due to procedural defects in the judicial process. Now, the former trade unionist seeks to clear his name.

Jair Bolsonaro, 67 years old (far right)

President Jair Messias Bolsonaro faces a complicated re-election. He has been stagnant for several months with little more than 30% of preferences and a high rejection among voters, especially women. To go back, the far-right candidate of the Liberal Party - a formation of the old politics that he criticized so much - has tried to revive the anti-PT sentiment -against the PT- that brought him to power four years ago, with references to the corruption scandals of the governments of Lula and his successor, Dilma Rousseff. In recent months, he has announced a 50% increase in aid for the poorest, a measure that has been denounced for its clear electoral component.

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The far-right was elected in 2018 amid the discredit of the traditional parties of the left and right. Despite having been a deputy in Brasilia for almost 30 years, Bolsonaro presented himself as a candidate outsider that he was not afraid to speak his mind, even if it was to defend the military dictatorship or insult women. Four years later, Bolsonaro's record in power is controversial. The leader minimized the pandemic, which he called a "little flu", promoted treatments without a scientific basis and delayed the purchase of vaccines. The balance has been 660,000 deaths, 10% of the total deaths from covid-19 in the world.

Ciro Gomes, 64 years old (centre left)

Ciro Gomes, candidate of the Democratic Labor Party (PDT, for its acronym in Portuguese), is third in the race, but far from the headliners. The polls give him about 7% of the vote. Still, Gomes has resisted calls from some sectors on the left to step down and facilitate a Lula victory in the first round. The center-left politician maintains a critical discourse both with Lula, of which he was minister, and with Bolsonaro. The third way that he proposes advocates, among other things, establishing a universal minimum income.

It will be the fourth time that Gomes has contested a presidential election. He entered the 1998, 2002 and 2018 competitions, but never got past third place. With a more intellectual profile than that of his two main rivals, Gomes has spent four decades stringing together public office. In addition to being a minister, he has been a state and federal deputy, mayor of Fortaleza and governor of Ceará, a state in northeastern Brazil. One of the fruits of his management there is the notable improvement in the quality of education.

Simone Tebet, 52 years old (centre right)

Simone Tebet is the woman who stands out the most in the race. The current senator, candidate for the Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB), collects around 5% of preferences in the first round. Like Ciro Gomes, the center-right candidate defends a third way between Bolsonaro and Lula, criticizing the machismo of the former and the corruption during the government of the latter. In the candidate debate at the end of August, her performance was the best valued by analysts and, according to polls, by undecided voters. Among her proposals, the appointment of a joint government and a liberal economic agenda that seeks to expand the participation of the private sector stand out.

Tebet is the least known of the four leaders in the presidential race. Before being elected senator in 2014 for Mato Grosso do Sul, she was a state deputy in that entity and mayor of Tres Lagoas, the medium-sized city where she was born. In addition to the support of the MDB, successor to the only opposition party allowed during the military dictatorship, she has the support of the PSDB, another party of the establishment politician who is the historical adversary of Lula's PT.

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