Brazil Election Goes to Runoff; Nationalist Movements Make a Long-term Statement

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Brazil’s presidential election will go to a run-off vote, according to electoral authorities, after President Jair Bolsonaro’s unexpected strength in the first round derailed rival Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s prospects of winning outright. 

With 99.7% of electronic votes counted, Lula led Bolsonaro by 48.4% to 43.3%, according to the federal voter agency. Since neither candidate received a majority of votes, the race will go to a second-round vote on Oct. 30.

It is likely to be a long and harrowing month on the streets of Brazil. 

The turnout of far-right Bolsonaro supporters surprised many analysts. The run-off election is essentially a rematch, and many people are expecting political violence. Bolsonaro supporters have copied MAGA’s nationalistic stunts, mirroring the propaganda and political stunts of their North American counterparts.

Lula won the votes of the nine states of the Northeast, as was predicted, but Bolsonaro, as expected, won in the South and Midwest.

While Lula’s lead in this first round signals hope for his presidency, this Sunday’s elections landed devastating losses for his Worker’s Party and other progressive parties in the Senate. Even if he wins re-election, the party of his opponent won the most seats in both chambers of Congress, demonstrating the strength of the nationalist movement. 

Bolsonaro’s right-wing party, PL (Liberral Party)  won 99 seats in the lower house, up from 77, and right-wing parties allied with Bolsonaro now control half of the chamber.  The Senate, where Bolsonaro’s party won 13 of the 27 seats up for election, was the bigger upset in Sunday’s voting, with two more possible in second-round runoffs.

Right-wing movements also made advances in state politics, including races for governor which Bolsonoro claims to have influenced 16 governor victories across the country. 

That night Bolsonaro tweeted:

“This is the greatest victory for patriots in the history of Brazil: 60% of the Brazilian territory will be governed by those who defend our values ​​and fight for a freer nation,” he tweeted.”

Lula expressed an optimistic view on his social media stating:

“This is just an extension. Let’s work together for the next 28 days and conquer our victory. Let’s talk to those who think they don’t like us and convince them.”

Besides Lula’s majority vote, the left and progressive parties did see some important successes last night. 

Sao Paulo elected  Sonia Guajajara, the first Indigenous woman as federal deputy.  

Erika Hilton, a Black Trans woman was elected Federal Deputy in Sao Paulo.

The University of Rio’s first Trans teacher, Dani Balbi, was elected State Deputy in Rio de Janeiro. 

The State of Parana Elected the first Black Federal Deputy, a woman, Carol Dartora. 

The political icon, Benedita da Silva- who was the first female senator and the first woman and Black governor of Brazil- was elected Federal Deputy in Rio.

Afro Brazilians are tense, as the re-election of Lula means the hope of returning to the pursuit of equal rights and opportunities for all Brazilians. I asked a few people for their thoughts on the election:

Alex,  Municipal Worker, Laura de Freitas: 

We must realize that the elections were not just for president, there were other positions such as federal and state deputies, senators, governors. Even with Lula’s victory and the move to the second round, the far-right caucus managed to elect several deputies and senators. This means that Lula will face challenges in dialoguing with the extreme right on issues concerning the people.

For the Black, Indigenous, LGBTQIAP+ population, it will be very difficult to discuss the agendas regarding the struggle of this population.

That is why it is important to think about votes in all instances of elections, because the Chamber of Deputies elected this year does not represent the poorest part of Brazilian society.

The priorities that my leaders should have as criteria are: eradicating hunger, currently millions of Brazilians, mainly families and low-income people, live a harsh reality of hunger.   We need public policies of social inclusion with an emphasis on the lgbtqiap+ community. 

Luiz Eduardo, student, Paripe, Salvador:

Although we always fight for our rights, there is still a large mass of people who have, in a way, a huge prejudice especially with people who designate themselves as non-binary, gender fluid, transsexuals and etc…, also including the Black population, since we are a large majority, but we still have to claim our rights every day, in addition to women’s rights. Especially in the northeast where cases of femicide have increased alarmingly;  and investing in education, currently with the cuts in education, the quality of education (especially in secondary education) has dropped a lot.

Walter,  Student,  Salvador:

My hopes for this year’s elections is that candidate Lula wins the presidential elections and improves Brazil in 2023, taking Brazil off the hunger map, employing more Brazilians (mainly families and low-income people), improving education and quality in public schools, creating more inclusive public policies focused on the LGBTQIAP+ community and the Black population.

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