Brazil holds its elections on Sunday and the most significant position is that for the presidency that pits the incumbent right wing extremist Jair Bolsonaro against leftist former president Inacio Lula Da Silva. Bolsonaro is very authoritarian and is currently behind in the polls but has said, like Trump, that he can only lose if there is cheating and that he will not leave office quietly. His supporters are saying that they will not accept any other result than a Bolsonaro victory. If no candidate gets an absolute majority on Sunday, there will be a run-off election on October 30th.
Bolsonaro is in many ways like Trump but while I wrote that it was always unlikely that the US military would go along with any attempted coup by Trump after he lost, that is not the case in Brazil. Bolsonaro is a former officer and has maintained his ties to the military and has, like Trump, given ex-military people important positions in government. Brazil had a US-backed military coup in 1964 and the military stayed in power until 1985. This history of military rule means that the concept of a military takeover is not unthinkable. Bolsonaro during his presidency also greatly relaxed gun ownership laws and that has led to a very large number of people now owning weapons. He also, like Trump, has a hard core of fanatical supporters who believe his outlandish claims, and might be perfectly willing to unleash violence if Bolsonaro urges them on, like Trump’s followers on January 6th.
All the signs point to Lula winning the plurality easily but not getting the majority needed to avoid a run-off.
Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has widened his lead over incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, less than a week before one of the most divisive presidential elections in Brazil’s history.
A Genial/Quaest poll released on Wednesday showed Lula, who served as president from 2003 to 2010, with a 13-percentage-point lead over his far-right rival.
Recent polls indicate that the former left-wing leader could beat Bolsonaro in the first round of voting on Sunday.
The survey put support for Lula at 46 percent in the first round, compared with 33 percent for Bolsonaro – up from 44 percent for Lula and 34 percent for Bolsonaro a week earlier.
In a potential October 30 runoff, Lula’s lead rose to a 14-point advantage, from 10 points a week ago, the poll found.
Brazil remains tense in advance of the upcoming vote, as experts have raised concerns over election-related violence should Bolsonaro refuse to accept defeat.
All these are ominous signs that the period between the first round and the October 30th run-off could be very turbulent.
In last week’s episode of his show, John Oliver tells us what is going on with Bolsonaro and Brazil.