BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — Brazil is days away from a presidential election with two political titans and bitter rivals who could usher in another four years of far-right politics or return a leftist to the country’s top job.
On one side is incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, a former army captain who has built a base of hardcore support as a culture fighter with a conservative ideology. He has public money deployed in what is widely seen as an attempt to collect votes at the last minute. His opponent, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has sought to stir nostalgia for his years as president of an economic boom and social integration.
Here’s what you need to know about the Brazilian presidential election, which will take place on October 30.
HOW COMMON ARE ELECTIONS IN BRAZIL?
Brazil holds general elections every four years, electing state and federal representatives, as well as the president, governors and some senators. Mayors, city councilors and other senators are also elected every four years, but on different years.
HOW MANY TIMES CAN A PERSON BE ELECTED PRESIDENT IN BRAZIL?
There is no limit to the number of times a person can be elected president in Brazil, but the person can only serve two consecutive terms. That is why da Silva, who was president from 2003 to 2010, is allowed to take office this year.
WAS THERE NOT ALREADY A BRAZILIAN ELECTION?
Brazil held its first round of voting on October 2, electing legislators at the state and federal levels. Governor candidates who received more than 50% of the valid votes, excluding blank and spoiled ballots, were also confirmed.
None of the 11 presidential candidates won an outright majority, sparking a runoff between da Silva, who had 48% of the vote and Bolsonaro with 43%. Polls had significantly underestimated support for the president and his allies, call back.
WHAT HAPPENS IN OCT. 30 ELECTION?
It is a runoff election for the presidency and for governors in states where no candidate won a first-round majority. Most polls 2 1/2 weeks after the first round show da Silva maintaining a slight lead over Bolsonaro.
WHAT ARE BOLSONARO’S POLICIES?
Throughout the campaign, Bolsonaro has often repeated his guiding principles: “God, family, country.” He portrays Brazil as mentally ill and presents itself as a Christian soldier stand guard against cultural Marxism. He has relaxed restrictions on the purchase of weapons and ammunition and weakened surveillance of environmental crime in the Amazon rainforestwhat critics say is the cause of the biome worst deforestation in 15 years and a wave of man-made fires.
He emphasizes his opposition to legal abortion and drugs, while warning that da Silva’s return would lead to the kind of leftist authoritarianism seen elsewhere in Latin America, persecution of churches, sex education in public schools and the spread of the so-called gender ideology.
Recently, Bolsonaro has given public money to poorer Brazilians, who have traditionally been inclined to vote for da Silva’s Workers’ Party. The Brazil Well-being program created during the COVID-19 pandemic was generous to other countries and a lifeline for many Brazilians. It was recently strengthened and extended until the end of the year, and Bolsonaro has said it will continue into 2023.
Other measures include a cooking gas subsidy, assistance to truck and taxi drivers, and debt refinancing.
AND DA SILVA?
Da Silva, commonly known as Lula, has focused on his previous terms, in which commodity exports soared and tens of millions of Brazilians joined the middle class. He has promised the poor – plagued by economic problems for nearly a decade – that they will again be able to afford three square meals a day and even weekend barbecues.
But he’s been vague about how he would make sure those halcyon days would return. Like Bolsonaro, he promises to extend Brazil’s well-being until 2023, without explaining how it will be financed. He has said that the state will once again play a prominent role in economic development.
Faced with Bolsonaro’s attempts to lump him together with leaders of Cuba and Venezuela, Da Silva has refused to denounce their autocratic practices, saying instead that the sovereignty of other countries should be respected, while also emphasizing that he had no such policy during his presidency. In April, he said women should have the right to abortion and then backed out amid outrage, saying he personally opposes it.
A 2018 corruption conviction banned him from that year’s presidential race and enabled Bolsonaro to cruise to victory. But the Supreme Court in 2021 his convictions annulled, ruled that the presiding judge was biased and colluded with the prosecutors. That made his run possible this year.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE VOTE IN BRAZIL?
Many political analysts have said: concern that Bolsonaro has laid the groundwork for rejecting election results if he loses and will try to hold on to power – like former US President Donald Trumpwhom he admires. Such an alarm stems largely from: the president’s insistence that Brazil’s electronic voting machines are susceptible to fraud, though he never provided evidence for his claims.
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