Simone Tebet: the feminine aplomb that gives the surprise in the Brazilian elections | International

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Democratic Movement presidential candidate Simone Tebet waves during a campaign rally in Rio de Janeiro, on September 22, 2022.Bruna Prado (AP)

The candidate Simone Tebet, 52 years old, is the surprise of these Brazilian elections that have been led since the beginning of the campaign by two white men with gray hair. With 90% of the votes counted, the senator - who stood out in the televised debates despite the fact that her political experience is notably less than that of her opponents - was in third place, with 4.35%. That in Brazil is equivalent to 4.5 million votes. Tebet was the only new face in the leading pack of these elections and she was, at the close of this edition, ahead of a politician who survived a thousand battles like Ciro Gomes, former minister of Lula da Silva.

His three adversaries have been in public life for more than three decades. She made her debut as a senator two legislatures ago and previously held a high position in the Government of Mato Grosso, land of the powerful agricultural sector.

Born in Tres Lagoas (Mato Grosso), the poise and preparation she has shown in the televised debates with three veterans like Lula, Bolsonaro and Gomes, placed her on the radar of many Brazilians who want the far-right Bolsonaro to leave but refuse to give Lula the blank vote asking for a third term.

Tebet is considered the agribusiness candidate and she herself recognized this in the last debate. But that did not prevent her from being remarkably concerned about the environmental issue. In that face-to-face meeting, she recalled that in her land the effects of climate change are already noticeable because it rains less. Tebet is the latest bet of those who have tried for the last two years to forge the so-called third way, an alternative candidate to Bolsonaro and the left represented by Lula.

Most of his compatriots first noticed Tebet during the televised sessions of the commission of inquiry on the management of the pandemic. There she already showed the tables that have later elevated her in the debates, as when she told President Bolsonaro last week to his face that he lacked courage to deal with important issues instead of trying to divert attention to attack the Party and the Workers (PT).

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Her firmness in the debates has benefited her at the polls. Tebet is also a political rarity in a country where men comfortably dominate politics and the positions that derive from it. Brazil had only one female president, the leftist Dilma Rousseff, who ended in the worst way, the victim of a political trial in 2016. She still has not recovered from that traumatic experience. And her passage through the Planalto Palace did little to change one of the great debts of the largest democracy in Latin America: only 15% of public positions are held by women.

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