By João Paulo Peixoto
“If you want to make enemies, try to change something”.
28th American President
Many readers may wonder whether it would not be too early to outline scenarios for the 2018 presidential elections. I do agree. But my task here is not guessing about things that may happen in two years, but rather to present, with the data available today, the most likely scenarios.
And data available is the most recent voting intention poll that shows former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in first place, House Representative Jair Bolsonaro in second, and São Paulo state governor Geraldo Alckmin in third.
The candidatures of Lula and Bolsonaro were already foreseeable. What is important to remark, however, is that the leadership they both present occurs to the detriment of less controversial candidates such as the governor of São Paulo, for example.
Such polarization reflects a division that has been increasing for some time in Brazilian, as it is shown in verbal (sometimes physical) confrontation of petistas (as the supporters of the Workers’ Party are called) versus non-petistas, with all that this means.
This kind political clash would mean a return to old politics, where the ideological dispute takes place within the traditional confrontation left and right? Or wouldn’t it be a struggle of distinct and antagonistic biographies, myths and backgrounds? It could be anything but a duel between parties. At least up to now, because none of the stronger parties support the military’s (Bolsonaro) candidacy.
It is evident that there will be explicit antagonism between two politicians with só different flags. It can may also represent an opportunity to the Workers’ Party (PT) to evaluate the degree of support it has in society in the post-Lava-jet stage. On the other side, it will measure the degree of acceptance of ultra-conservative theses as the ones defended by the anti-PT candidate, with strong nationalist appeal and influence over of young electorate, in a typical conservative populist ideology framework.
Finally, there is no way to ignore the winds that blow from out of Brazil’s borders, to be measured by the Trump phenomenon and by whatever be he result of the presidential election in France. Let’s see in which ways the global advance of the right-wing conservative wave will influence politics here.
Interesting times are coming. Even more so if we consider that an “exotic” candidate is preparing himself to dispute with one of the greatest popular leaders in Brazil, besides being an experienced politician and a former president of the Republic.
Populist costumes fit very well in Bolsonaro who despises the traditional channels of communication and prefer to establish a direct relation with people. Incidentally, this is also the receipt of Lula and certain candidates in other countries. This tactic seeks to exploit the society’s exhaustion with traditional political elites, the establishment, and big media.
It should be noted, however, that both candidacies can be of short run. Both Lula and Bolsonaro face prosecution processes, albeit for different reasons. If they come to be condemned by court, politics will lose.
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