Populist president Jair Bolsonaro has responded poorly to Covid. Opposed masks, not good on vaccine rollout, thousands died. He called it a ‘little flu’. There were so many deaths that a Brazilian congressional panel wanted to charge him with ‘crimes against humanity’. He has also been accused of encouraging destruction of the Amazon rain forest.
He is not popular and unlikely to win in October. He has told supporters vote will be rigged and only God can remove him from office, (said at a rally September 21). He has said that he will seek a second 4 year term. In 2019, he left the party that helped him gain the presidency: a problem now as you need to be in a party if you want to stand for election. So last month, Nov 21, Bolsonaro joined the centrist Liberal Party, although it won’t soften his right-wing populist bent. He has said he wants military intervention to dissolve Supreme Court, who have authorised probes into Bolsonaro and his politician sons.
Bolsonaro is trying. He said he would increase cash to the poor (known as ‘Bolsa Familia’), even though this would place the national budget at risk. Before, he tried to reduce poverty by limiting number of children the poor had. He has attacked Brazil’s electronic voting system, (no proof).
Bolsonaro’s 3 options for his future: ‘arrest, assassination or re-election’.
Former President Luiz Inacio ‘Lula da Silva’, from the left wing ‘Workers Party’. Da Silva was convicted of corruption in 2017 but it was overturned on appeal. Most polls (Dec 21) place him in the lead. But many don’t want an ‘either/or’ candidate of the above two.
Sergio Moro – Judge turned politician played a part in exposing endemic corruption in the establishment. Going for President. He is third in the polls but trails by a wide margin behind former left-wing President, Lula da Silva, and the far-right Bolsonaro. Moro is 49 and sees and opportunity to speak to those who don’t want the ‘either/or’ option. (1) Moro rose to fame as the face of the long-running ‘Lava Jato’ (car wash) probe that locked powerful Brazilian figures in an anti-corruption investigation, which started 2014. ‘Contracts for kick-backs’ – involved 1,000 + politicians and business people and $5bn in illegal payments. More than 280 convicted, including Lula – later annulled by Supreme Court. (2) Moro then joined Bolsonaro administration as justice minister but left after 16 months over a spat between President’s interference in federal police. Then a stint in the US as a consultant. (3) Now he plans to replace the former army captain as Brazil’s leader. While no candidate is officially declared as yet, (Dec 21), polls show he is ranked third and his momentum is growing. According to the Ipec pollster, 30% of Brazilians don’t want the ‘either/or’.
Moro criticised over car wash scandal for being biased and coaching some of the prosecutors (this revealed 2019). The Supreme Court ruled that this 2017 trial of Lula was biased.
Corruption has become less important and the economy and healthcare more so.
If elected, Moro said would stay on corruption and promote a liberal economic agenda to address social problems. He believes in private sector and that economic development in the country needs this. Also believes in strong welfare programmes in health, education and public security. He has never held elected office, doesn’t have Lula’s charisma or the populist touch of Bolsonaro.
Other Possibles (but unlikely that they will split the vote):
Joao Doria – Governor of Sao Paulo.
Luiz Henrique Mandetta – former Health Minister.
Ciro Gomes – former Governor who came 3rd at the last election in 2018.
7th September 2022 will be the 200th anniversary of independence from Portugal.