Brazil
Analysis

Bolsonaro, Lula jockeying to forge political alliances for Brazilian presidency

Bnamericas Published: Thursday, October 06, 2022
Bolsonaro, Lula jockeying to forge political alliances for Brazilian presidency

Brazil's right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro and leftist former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva have spent the first few days after the October 2 election preparing for the runoff on October 30 by trying to attract the backing of political allies.

Their efforts are producing results, with both men already drawing support from relevant figures.

"Looking at the profile of the politicians that Bolsonaro and Lula have managed to attract so far, I would say that Lula may have emerged with a little more advantage, as he has attracted politicians from a more diverse political spectrum than his current support base," Lucas Fernandes, a political analyst at local consulting firm BMJ Consultores Associados told BNamericas.

In the case of Bolsonaro, who will have to engage sufficient backing to reverse Lula's five-point lead in the first round, he has so far bolstered his campaign with elected governors in various important states.

Romeu Zema and Claudio Castro, the reelected governors of Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro states, respectively, have declared their support for Bolsonaro, along with the current governor of São Paulo state, Rodrigo Garcia.

Lula has also managed to align some political heavyweights behind him.

Simone Tebet, of the centrist MDB party, who was defeated in the first round of the election with 4.2% of the vote, announced his support for Lula, along with Ciro Gomes, of the center-left PDT party, who received 3%.

"The key question is whether these defeated candidates really have the power to transfer most of the votes they got to another candidate. If that happens, Tebet's support alone will be enough for Lula to win the election," Creomar de Souza, CEO of consulting firm Dharma Political Risk and Strategy, told BNamericas. 

Another former president, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, a prominent and influential member of the centrist PSDB party, also said he would back Lula in the second round.

In the first round, Lula obtained 48.4% of the vote, while Bolsonaro received 43.2%. As no candidate obtained more than 50%, they must go to a runoff later this month.

Polls show that Lula is currently the front-runner for the second round. According to a survey released by polling institute Ipec, Lula leads on 51%, while Bolsonaro trails with 43%.

The polls have come under fire in Brazil. Most of them suggested that Lula would obtain a bigger lead over Bolsonaro and could even win outright in the first round, while the actual result was considerably closer.

ECONOMIC FACTORS

While the search for allies is an important factor, another major focus of the two campaigns will be on Brazil's economic performance, with positive signs emerging in recent months, which could work to Bolsonaro's advantage.

In recent months, Brazil has seen some deflation, which will probably produce some positive effects for the current president. This deflation is mainly due to the temporary reduction in fuel taxes and also to the cut in prices imposed by state-run oil firm Petrobras

However, oil prices have risen again in the last few days, which could force Petrobras to increase prices in line with the international market. Nonetheless, given the timing, analysts believe that Bolsonaro may exert pressure on the company to postpone any increase until after October 30.

"On the economic side, I believe that President Bolsonaro will try at all costs to hold back any possibility of increasing gasoline prices until election day and will also try to bring forward payments under the Auxilio Brasil social program in an attempt to win over low-income voters," said Souza. 

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