Lula is favorite in the polls in Brazil

If the elections were today, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva would once again be president of Brazil for the third time and without the need for a second round, defeating Jair Bolsonaro by almost thirty points of difference. This is what the latest surveys by Datafolha and Ipec (ex Ibope), published this week, show, confirming the trend already registered by other consulting firms in recent months. The victory of Lula, who spent 580 days in prison in Curitiba and was outlawed in the 2018 elections, would be even greater if there were a ballot: according to Datafolha, the leader of the Workers’ Party would exceed 65 percent of the valid votes and win both the current president and the former judge who imprisoned him, who will also be a candidate after breaking with Bolsonaro.

The numbers of both consultancies are almost identical. According to Ipec, which surveyed 2002 people in 144 cities from December 9 to 13, Lula da Silva would obtain 48/49 percent of the votes in the first round, depending on who his opponents are, followed by President Jair Bolsonaro ( 21/22), former judge Sergio Moro (6/8) and former governors Ciro Gomes (5) and João Doria (2/3). According to Datafolha, which surveyed 3,666 people in 191 cities from December 13 to 16, Lula would get 47/48 percent of the votes, followed by Bolsonaro (21/22), Moro (9), Ciro (7) and Doria. (3/4). The vote intention of the candidate on the left grows among the youngest (53/54 percent), the poorest (55/56) and the inhabitants of the Northeast (61). Among the evangelicals, who voted en masse for Bolsonaro in 2018, they are tied, with a slight advantage for Lula. Regarding the levels of rejection, only 34 percent responded to Datafolha that they would not vote for Lula in any case, while 60 percent completely discarded Bolsonaro.

While the approval of the current president continues to fall – only 19 percent according to Ipec and 22 according to Datafolha approve his government, in the midst of a health catastrophe, economic disaster, growth of hunger and inequality, coup threats and corruption scandals. Lula continues to grow and meets with different social and political actors to discuss the future. Inside, he negotiates a broad anti-fascist coalition that, in addition to uniting all the left forces, could also add as vice an old right-wing adversary: ​​the former governor of San Pablo Geraldo Alckmin, whom the former president defeated in the second round of 2006. Outside, he talks with foreign leaders, gives international interviews and is received in each country he has visited since he regained his freedom with the honors of head of state.

Lula’s trip to Argentina, where he spoke in front of a crowd in the Plaza de Mayo along with Alberto Fernández, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and the Uruguayan José “Pepe” Mujica, was the finishing touch of a series of international trips in the who looked like an elected president who is beginning to prepare his term. The friendship and political harmony between Lula and the Argentine president, who proudly confesses himself to be a “lulista”, is not secret and, when he was still a candidate for the presidency for the Frente de Todos, he went to visit him in his cell and declared at the door of the headquarters of the Brazilian Federal Police in Curitiba their solidarity with who was still a political prisoner. “Comrade Alberto Fernández was a candidate and he had the courage to go to jail to visit me,” recalled Lula excitedly at the event for Democracy Day in the historic square, while Alberto seemed about to cry.

But it was not only in Argentina that Lula showed his conditions to remove Brazil from the place of international pariah to which Bolsonaro took him. In November, in Germany, met Olaf Scholz, who had already won the elections and was preparing to take over as chancellor. The Social Democratic politician, who was formerly Angela Merkel’s Vice Chancellor and Finance Minister, declared himself very satisfied with the meeting and tweeted that he was looking forward to “continuing our dialogue” (who knows, when both will already govern their countries). Later, in Belgium, Lula was invited to speak before the European Parliament, where progressive parties applauded him standing up.

In France, Emmanuel Macron paraded the Republican guard before going out to greet him at the entrance to the Eliseo Palace. During more than an hour of meeting, they talked about the pandemic, the climate transition, bilateral relations, and the concern about the way in which Brazil “separated from the multilateral system and from major international agreements” in recent years. The former Brazilian president was also received by the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo; former president François Hollande and leftist leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon, in addition to receiving an award for “political courage” from the prestigious International Politics magazine and giving a speech at the Sciences Po political studies institute, which ten years earlier had done it honorary doctor.

In Spain, President Pedro Sánchez received him at La Moncloa and later highlighted on social networks that “Spain and Brazil have strong structural and permanent ties,” the type of statement that is made when two heads of government meet. They spoke about the pandemic, the climate crisis, the global economic recovery, the relations between Europe and Latin America and the “risks to democracy”, a whole message for Brazilians. He also met with Vice President Yolanda Díaz, who assumed the leadership of United We Can after the departure of Pablo Iglesias and is emerging as a candidate for the left wing of the coalition. With the president of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, Lula had already met in July in São Paulo, during the president’s visit to Brazil.

All of the above contrasts with what happened in October, when Bolsonaro traveled to Rome for the G-20 summit, where he only managed a formal conversation with the Argentine president, forced to meet him due to the importance of the bilateral relationship, which transcends the governments. The Brazilian journalist Jamil Chade, who had access to the prelude to the summit, recounts the loneliness of that undesirable man with whom no one wanted to be photographed. While, in different parts of the room, leaders from around the world held meetings or conversed informally on the most diverse current issues – the distribution of vaccines, the economic crisis, the management of the WHO, trade agreements – Bolsonaro was seated in a corner, alone, without friends, without interlocutors. Presidents and prime ministers avoided him and did not even shake hands. The Brazilian president tried to start a chat with one of the Italian waiters who served the drinks, he made a joke about soccer, but was ignored. The only relevant news about his participation in the summit was that his guards attacked journalists when they tried to interview him.

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The previous month had not been better in New York, where Bolsonaro traveled to participate in the UN General Assembly. Anti-vaccines, the Brazilian president was the only one of the G-20 who was not immunized, so the New York mayor, Bill de Blasio, said that “if you do not want to be vaccinated, you do not need to come” and the restaurants in which he wanted to enter prohibited him entry. He ended up eating pizza on the street and was the laughingstock of everyone. In his meeting with Boris Johnson, broadcast on television, the British Prime Minister took the opportunity to talk about the importance of getting vaccinated and recalled that he had already given both doses of Oxford / AstraZeneca. Bolsonaro replied with a laugh that he was not vaccinated.

A little earlier, in August, upon receiving a delegation from the United States government, the Brazilian president told Joe Biden’s officials to their faces that Donald Trump had suffered electoral fraud and he was fighting so that it would not happen to him. same. White House Secretary of Homeland Security Jack Sullivan was staring at him in shock.

The unfounded allegations of “electoral fraud” are one of Bolsonaro’s main workhorses since Lula was released from prison and he began his countdown at the Planalto Palace. Like Trump, he has been preparing his defeat with conspiracy theories about the electronic ballot box, accusations against electoral justice and “warnings” that, on several occasions, crossed the threshold of the threat of a coup, including a military parade in front of Congress the day the deputies rejected his project to reform the electoral legislation and an act with his followers in which, shouting, he threatened the legislative and judicial powers and attacked Supreme Court judges. Already in July, Bolsonaro’s campaign of lies to question the transparency of the elections in Brazil had led him to a harsh confrontation with the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) and its president, the also Supreme Judge Luis Roberto Barroso, whom Bolsonaro called “imbecile” and about which his son spread fake news through the “cabinet of hatred.” Judges Barroso and Alexandre de Moraes are constant targets of Bolsonaro’s insults and threats. The TSE responded in harsh terms with a statement that was also signed by all its former presidents since 1988, when the new constitution came into force after the end of the dictatorship.

Lula’s tour of Europe and his recent visit to Argentina, as well as the contacts he maintains with other heads of state, are better understood if those constant threats from Bolsonaro not to hand over power are taken into account. The current president knows that he is going to lose and also knows that he may end up in prison for the serious crimes of which the Parliamentary Investigation Commission accuses him of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the crime of genocide, while his four children also face accusations of corruption and may be implicated in hate crimes, dissemination of fake news and links with organized crime in Rio de Janeiro.

In a cabinet meeting that took place in 2020, it was filmed and ended up appearing on television when the video was leaked, Bolsonaro showed his despair at the possibility of electoral defeat against Lula. In a long monologue in which he threatened his own ministers, Jair Bolsonaro shouted, hit the table, insulted, rambled, swore, made jokes, denounced conspiracies against him, threatened the intervention of the Armed Forces and returned to yell, insult and hit the table, out of his mind. At one point, he told his ministers that if his government falls, they will all go to prison and, to avoid this, he had to distribute arms to his followers. “I want everyone armed!” He yelled like a madman.

The images of Lula being applauded in the European Parliament and in the Plaza de Mayo and received with honors by the heads of state of different countries are part of the former president’s strategy to send a message to the Brazilian political and economic establishment and the Armed Forces: Let them know that he will have the necessary international backing to stand up if Bolsonaro wants to strike a coup and not hand over power, promoting a “seizure of the capitol” by his fans in the manner of Trump. This is also how Lula’s negotiations can be understood so that Geraldo Alckmin, a right-wing politician who was his adversary in 2006 and led for many years the main opposition party to the PT, is his candidate for vice president, a possibility that generates much resistance in your own party.

It is no less, in this scenario, that the polls show such a big difference in favor of the former president, because the size of the victory will also determine how much margin Bolsonaro has to get rid of that democracy in which he never believed. If Lula wins in the first round with thirty points of advantage or exceeds 65 percent in an eventual ballot, as the polls predict, it is more difficult for the military, the economic power and the right wing of the so-called “centrão” to immolate themselves in a coup adventure with the worst president in the history of Brazil, the fascist and genocidal man who dreams of being a dictator, whose government has already killed more than 600,000 people.

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