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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Bolsonaro vs Lula: Brazil Votes in Heated Presidential Face-off

The two competitors, at loggerheads with each other, are bound in a neck-to-neck race

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BRAZIL: On Sunday, Brazilian citizens headed to the polling booths to vote in a tense presidential election between far-right President Jair Bolsonaro and returning left-wing former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. 

The two competitors, at loggerheads with each other, are bound in a neck-to-neck race.

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Bolsonaro has adhered to his right-wing ideology and proposed to consolidate a conservative edge in Brazilian politics in his re-election after the damaging effects of the pandemic tainted his presidency. 

Meanwhile, Lula had pledged to take a green approach, focusing more on social and environmental accountability, reiterating the prosperous times of his 2003-2010 presidency before his Workers Party got entangled in corruption scandals.

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Around 120 million registered voters are expected to choose their votes in electronic voting machines, which Bolsonaro claims (without proof) are highly susceptible to voter fraud. 

Bolsonaro’s skepticism regarding the legitimacy of voting machines has raised concerns about whether he would agree to concede defeat, following the example of former U.S. President Donald Trump’s claims that there was widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential elections.

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This has added to rising tensions in Brazil’s most polarizing political standoff since the return of democracy in 1985 after a military dictatorship which Lula rallied against as a former union leader while Bolsonaro recalls with evident nostalgia.

Several polls indicated that the race between the two leaders was almost neck-to-neck and tightening even further in the final week, with Bolsonaro slightly surpassing Lula. Other polls show a small but steady lead for Lula.

In the opinion polls of the first round of voting conducted on October 2, Bolsonaro outperformed his other 11 competitors. Although pollsters say they recalibrated their methods on the basis of that result, the Sunday runoff could have unpredictable outcomes.

Meanwhile, if former President Lula returned office this election, it would mark an astounding comeback for the leftist leader who was disgraced and jailed in 2018 for 19 months on bribery charges. After the Supreme Court overruled the judgment, clearing Lula’s name, he could appear for the re-election campaign and seek a third presidential term.

Lula aspires to state-driven economic prosperity and social policies for reducing mass poverty. 

He has also pledged a green approach to establish Brazil at the helm of environmental awareness and global climate talks by promising to combat the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, now at a staggering 15-year high.

For Bolsonaro, the second term in office would retain Brazil’s status in free-market reforms, lenient environmental protections, and powerful farm interests, with the help of coalition support of right-wing parties.

Also Read: Brazil: Presidential Candidate Lula Da Silva Ask Why Didn’t Bolsonaro Readjust Minimum Wage

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