21 Days Until Brazil’s Presidential Election: Violence, Corruption, and Tension
Brazil is scheduled to hold general elections, including elections for the presidency, next month. The second round run-off for president will take place on Oct. 28.
Going into the election, voter sentiment is at an all-time low since the end of the military dictatorship in 1985. Thirty-one percent of voters say they may spoil their ballot. This is the result of political and economic turmoil. Citizens are still reeling from the corruption scandal involving millions of dollars and countless politicians. This includes former President Dilma Rouseff, former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, and allegedly current President Michel Temer.
Largely dissatisfied with Brazil’s democracy, citizens are looking for a politically clean candidate to ease the recession and stop violence.
Currently leading the polls is former military officer, Jair Messias Bolsonar who has been a member of the Chamber of Deputies since 1991. A nationalist and far-right candidate, Bolsonaro incites nostalgia for military dictatorship and emphasizes a crack down on crime. He is controversially anti-gay and calls for looser gun laws and extreme policies like chemical castration of rapists.
To make matters more tense, on Thursday, Sept. 6, Bolsonar was stabbed in a campaign event, lost forty percent of his blood and may not be able to return to the campaign trail before the election. Some political scientists say the event may boost Bolsonar in the polls.
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who was the front runner of the race until recently, ran his campaign from his jail cell. Running under the Workers’ Party, which he helped form in the 1980s, da Silva was dominating the polls until he was barred from the election in the beginning of September. Just last week, da Silva announced he would be stepping aside to allow vice presidential candidate Fernando Haddad run in his stead.
Despite having da Silva’s endorsement, Haddad is relatively unknown outside of the south-east. With only a couple of weeks to transfer votes, Haddad is still trailing in polls.
Sustainability Network’s Marina Silva went up in the polls when da Silva was barred. Silva, who served as Environment Minister under da Silva’s administration and is primarily known for her concern for the environment, emphasizes her dramatic upbringing in which she went hungry, did not learn to read until her teens, and suffered from numerous illnesses.
Democratic Labor Party’s Ciro Gomes has extensive experience as governor, minister and mayor, but struggles to unite the left. He remains untainted by corruption scandals, however, which has boosted his popularity.
Social Democratic Party’s Geraldo Alckmin is a three-time governor, but lacks charisma. He is popular among conservatives for his market policies and historically successful crime policies.
The state of current polls is as follows:
Jair Bolsonaro (far right, PSL): 26%
Ciro Gomes (centre left, PDT): 11%
Marina Silva (green, Rede): 9%
Geraldo Alckmin (centre right, PSDB): 9%
Fernando Haddad (Workers' Party, PT): 8%
The numbers are changing daily, especially since da Silva was forced to drop out of the race. Given the prevalence of negative voter sentiment and continued turmoil, the intensity and uncertainty of the election is bound to increase moving into October.