Probably no other Brazilian knows better the dynamics and rhythms of electoral campaigns than Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. This is the sixth he has attended since his first loss, more than 40 years ago. Lula faces this final stretch for next Sunday’s elections —first round— with a frenzy of rallies in the squares with the most voters and calls for a useful vote to promptly remove Jair Bolsonaro from the dome of power. The hate speech has permeated enough that for the third time since the campaign began, a supporter of the president has killed a supporter of Lula; It was on Saturday, stabbed, in a bar in a city in the state of Ceará, according to a local newspaper.
The newspaper recounts that the assailant burst into a local in Cascavel (Ceará) on Saturday night, very agitated, shouting: “Who here is a voter of Lula?” he asked the parishioners. And one who answered “I” was stabbed by him. The victim died from his injuries and the police have confirmed that the attack was the result of a political discussion. It is the third deadly attack of this campaign, on all three occasions the aggressor was a Bolsonarista and the deceased, a Lulista. This same Monday another stab death was known in a bar in the south of Brazil, in Santa Catarina. A man wearing a president’s shirt has been stabbed by a man known in the area for his affinity with Lula’s Workers’ Party. Police investigate whether the motive is political or a family matter, reports Folha de S.Paulo.
A reflection of the tension that reigns is also that both favorites wear bulletproof vests at their rallies, the harassment of some candidates and pollsters in a climate marked by extreme polarization and the president’s questioning of the polls. The Bolsonaristas are convinced that the polls lie to prevent the re-election of the far-right.
Lula arrives at the first lap with the peace of mind that comes from having led the race from the first day, according to the polls. Bolsonaro has always been in second place, although he has been closing the gap. The most recent one places the extreme rightist with 31% compared to 48% for the leftist. But the leftist is an old dog and knows that nothing is won, not even at the last minute. And furthermore, he looks so close to 50% of the valid votes that he has stepped on the gas in an attempt to avoid a second round. It is a probability that almost no poll predicts beyond the margin of error, but with which the candidate of the Workers’ Party dreams.
One of the characteristics of this election is that the vast majority of voters have already decided on their candidate for a long time. Or with Lula, or with Bolsonaro. Those who prefer options more to the center left, like Ciro Gomes, or to the center right, like Simone Tebet, together with the undecided, add up to around 15%. That is why Lula is asking his convinced voters to do little ant work for the next six days, to talk and try to convince each of the undecided voters who cross their path. In parallel, he has launched a very harsh offensive to attract the votes of Gomes, whom Lula’s supporters accuse of benefiting Bolsonaro with his frontal attacks on the favorites.
The calls for a useful vote have frankly made Gomes, from the PDT, feel bad. With an air of mystery, Gomes, this veteran who is running for the presidency for the fourth time, announced that this Monday he would make an announcement to the nation. And, despite the fact that the polls place him third with 6% of the votes, this Monday in his speech broadcast on networks he has closed the door to an early withdrawal of his candidacy. In addition, he has denounced being the object of a “violent campaign of intimidation, lies and image destruction operations” to force him to step aside and leave Lula’s way clear. Last week, a group of leftist Latin American intellectuals and politicians released a letter asking him to step down to facilitate Bolsonaro’s defeat. The singer Caetano Veloso, a historic Gomes follower, has said that he will vote for Lula in the first round.
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However, the center-left candidate insists on keeping a third way open between Bolsonaro and Lula, of whom he was minister for three years. In recent days, Gomes has toughened criticism of his former boss and has even accused him of being responsible for the rise of the extreme right. “Bolsonaro would not exist if it were not for the serious economic and moral crisis of the PT governments,” he said this Monday. The harshness of his tone has earned him criticism from members of his own party who do not see a rapprochement with Lula with bad eyes, given the bad omens in the polls.
Lula has a dinner this Tuesday with a large group of businessmen, but the last crucial appointment on the candidates’ agenda before the polls open will be on Thursday night, when they face each other in a debate organized by the Globo channel. Lula and Bolsonaro will try to sentence the race in that last face-to-face, but there will be three days ahead in which misinformation on networks could wreak havoc on those few Brazilians who are not convinced who to vote for.
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