The Brazilian Presidential Election: Potential Candidates

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Corruption, the downturn in the economy, and a decrease in national security have overturned the traditional two-party presidential contest in Brazil. Thus, October’s presidential election is seemingly wide open.

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Two-time president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (pictured above, shaking hands with supporters before handing himself into the police) dominates the polls, with c.30% of the votes, according to Bloomberg. He is currently in prison on corruption charges which effectively removes him from the election. However, the Workers’ Party (PT) insist that he is still a candidate and are currently raising money for his campaign. Even if he was released from prison, according to Brazil’s electoral law, anyone accused of corruption cannot run for president if their sentence was confirmed on the first appeal.

Credit: Gustavo Lima / Zeca Ribeiro / Agência Brasil [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Jair Bolsonaro (left) is second behind Lula with c.18% of the votes. While The Economist has dubbed the former military commander as Brazil’s Donald Trump, he is closer to the Filipino President, Rodrigo Duterte. Bolsonaro is pro-gun, anti-abortion, and was charged in April with inciting hatred due to his attacks on women, gay people and minorities. When Bolsonaro voted for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff, he dedicated his vote to the colonel who ran the torture unit which tortured Dilma during the military dictatorship. However, he is seen as an outsider fighting against a corrupt political elite. He also supported the truckers’ strikes that have recently paralysed Brazil, hugely increasing his popularity.

Marina Silva (below) is running for the third time, with support of around 12-14%. While her small party, disassociation from the political mainstream and anti-corruption stance work in her favour, the fact that she used to be friends with Lula could be used in her favour, as his replacement, or against her. She also crumpled in the last stages of the previous election. Only time will tell if she can stand her ground this time.

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The governor of Sao Paulo, Geraldo Alckmin (below), is very popular within his State for the huge decrease in homicide, and he has the backing of a large party. However, his support does not stretch far beyond his party and Sao Paulo. He is in fifth place, with around 6% of public support, behind Ciro Gomes’s 9%. Gomes is strongly left wing, meaning that businesses feel threatened by him, but after the strikes and the fuel crisis, the population may swing in his favour.

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With 71% of the population saying that his government was bad or terrible, the current President, Michel Temer, announced that he was not going to run in the elections. Instead he is backing his finance minister, Henrique Meirelles (below). He is presenting himself as someone who will keep the country’s economy growing, and increase jobs. As the party he belongs to is important, he should get good TV coverage, party backing and his name is well known, though he has very low poll ratings at the moment.

Credit: Agência Brasil [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Parties have until the beginning of August to nominate candidates, and it looks set to be a tense electoral race, with the first round taking place on 7th October 2018.

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Spanish, Portuguese and European Studies student, on her year abroad in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

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