Lessons from the first round

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By CARLOS ÁGUEDO PAIVA*

The preference for Lula's candidacy among the low-income population in the countryside and in the city seems unquestionable

The risks for the country of an eventual re-election of Bolsonaro

The second round of the presidential election in Brazil in 2022 will define the course of the country for a long time. After all, we are not experiencing a confrontation between two candidacies that – despite political and ideological differences – agree on the most elementary principles of civic and social order in the country. Jair Bolsonaro and his followers have no commitment to the democratic-constitutional order. And not just because they praise the past dictatorship and repeatedly call for a new coup.

The government of Jair Bolsonaro already operates against the Constitution. The Secret Budget is much more than a corruption scandal. The transformation of public resources into an electoral instrument and of private enrichment is an evident case of subversion of the legal and constitutional order that is carried out with the support (and, to a large extent, for the benefit) of the majority of deputies and senators and with the connivance of the political system. Judiciary in general and the STF in particular.

However, if Brazil finds itself – since the coup-impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, until today – in a situation of institutional abnormality, this condition is recognized (even if in a subliminal and shameful way) by all the agents that articulated the coups[I] and who holds power in the country. Starting with the president himself and his entourage. The fact is that institutional abnormality is recognized by agents and powers capable of imposing a brake on President Jair Bolsonaro's excesses.

These powers are, in the first place, the Judiciary (in particular, the STF). Secondly, the mainstream press, which supported and sanctioned the farce of Lava-Jato, the coup-impeachment against Dilma Rousseff, Lula's unconstitutional imprisonment and the impeachment of his candidacy in 2018. Thirdly, the financial and industrial elite and the leaders of the main business organizations in the country (FIESP, Febraban, CNI, etc.). Understanding this issue of “brakes” is essential.

As Michel Temer and Jair Bolsonaro were only elevated to the presidency with the approval of the Judiciary, the press and the national economic elite, the freedom of action of the presidents “elected” by this minority is under constant monitoring. Thus, the Labor and Social Security reforms of the Temer and Bolsonaro governments were only carried out because they were part of the project of the agents who articulated the 2016 and 2018 coups.

Jair Bolsonaro intended to go much further; His goal was to pass the cattle on everything. But he was unable to carry out projects that are dear to him: from the total liberation of gun ownership to the end of all control over deforestation in the Amazon, passing through the dismantling of the SUS and the corrupt and patrimonialist administration of all acquisitions, transfers e pubic concessions. If we still have Inpe, Ibama SUS, Public Universities, CNPq-Capes System, and TCU and STF with some independence, this is due to the fact that the legitimacy of the Bolsonaro government is fragile. The “Myth” has feet of clay and knows that his election in 2018 was based on a farce. Even so, His Excrescence extrapolated from the script produced by scammers. But neither did it succeed in fully implementing its proto-fascist project. Until now!

This point is crucial for understanding the risk we are running with an eventual re-election of the current president: Bolsonaro's project is not the same as that of the coup-mongering elite that put him where he is. Tensions in Bolsonaro's relationship with the STF, with car wash exponents (such as Sergio Moro and the MBL), with part of the mainstream media (such as Globe) and with a significant portion of their original supporters (from Joice Hasselmann and Janaina Paschoal to Gustavo Bebiano and Carlos Alberto Santos Cruz) are not fictional creations. There is not only opposition, of course. But there is no identity either. The coup leaders of 2016 and 2018 had two objectives: to annihilate the PT and restore neoliberal and privatist managers to power.

But they wanted managers who operated within the minimum limits of “republicanism, decency and hierarchy”. Deep down, what was wanted was the return of the PSDB from FHC's times, which operated the State as a power structure aimed at meeting the demands of the “cream of society”: the industrial and financial oligarchy of São Paulo in the XNUMXs. Jair Bolsonaro wants the State for himself and his friends. He brought the lowest clergy into the running of the country. And he wants to rule with these and for these. Its management project is simple: full support for slipping.

And that is where the danger lies: if Bolsonaro is re-elected without the media reverberating “monthly allowances and petrolões”, without an ongoing Lava-Jato, without Lula’s illegal arrest, without support from the great press, without the blessing and support silent and smiling of the Ministers of the STF, then, the captain's victory will be complete. And he will use it to manage without brakes.

The Centrão, the BBB Bench (of the Bullet, the Boi and the Bible) and the various armed forces (from the Army to the militias) are waiting anxiously for this victory. Just like Paulo Guedes and his friends from banking and speculation, looking forward to a new wave of privatization. After all, Petrobras, Banco do Brasil, Caixa Econômica, BNDES and so many other jewels in the crown can enrich many friends and allow the acquisition of more than 107 properties with cash.

In short: even more than in 2018, it is the survival of the country that is at stake in these elections. Even part of the PSDB has already realized that the Bolsonaro creature has become autonomous from its creators and is a risk for Brazil. Upon assuming the vice-presidential candidacy on Lula's ticket, Geraldo Alckmin recognized this obvious fact. Support for Lula in the second round by Simone Tebet, Ciro Gomes, FHC, Tasso Jereissati and other leaders of the “political center” goes in the same direction. But the risks we take are still enormous. And not only for our country, but for the world.

In the end, Brazil is not a “pawn” in the world political chess. It has half the population and area of ​​South America, is one of the largest economies in the world and one of the five pillars of the BRICS. At a time when the world is fighting global warming and the hegemony of the USA and NATO is questioned by the emerging powers of Eurasia (China, Russia and India at the forefront), the direction taken by Brazil can define the course of the political and energy game - international strategic.

Jair Bolsonaro's victory puts the Amazon and the world's climate balance at risk, divides and weakens Latin America and throws water in the mill of the USA and the NATO West against the powers that fight for a multipolar world. The challenge is huge. But it is essential to win it. And, for that, we need, first of all, to understand what happened in the first round.

 

Why are polls so wrong?

The first thing to understand is that the electoral polls were not as wrong as has been intended. And this to the extent that polls evaluate and measure voting intentions, not being able to assess future abstention. But the abstention rate in the 2022 first round was the highest since the 1998 elections, reaching 20,89%. According to TSE, more than 32 million voters did not turn out to the polls on 2 October.

It turns out that abstention is not evenly distributed among the various strata of voters. It tends to be higher among voters who pay higher costs to exercise their right to vote; either monetary costs or travel time costs. Such costs tend to be higher among the rural population and that portion of the urban working population that inhabits the outskirts of large cities and that has Sunday as its only day (if any!) of rest and leisure. Equally well, abstention tends to be higher among voters who, despite preferring this or that candidacy, are not sure and convinced of their choice. We will analyze below how these two determinations may have contributed to the discrepancy between the percentage of votes actually received by Bolsonaro and the projections of the main research institutes. Before that, however, it is important to demonstrate that some of the proposals for an “explanation” for this phenomenon that have received wide coverage in the press and on social networks are wrong.

The first of these “explanations” is that the sampling of the surveys was poorly done, either because the delay in carrying out the Demographic Census prevents the updating of the stratification criteria of the interviewees, or because the surveys only captured voting intentions in urban centers, without going down to the “grotões” of the territory, where Bolsonarism would be rooted. This criticism is based on a misconception. The National Household Sample Survey (PNAD-Contínua) provides sufficient, safe and rigorous elements for carrying out the stratification of samples of the national electorate. Evidently, research institutes may stratify the sample poorly. And they can do it for incompetence, for economy of resources (ignoring the "grotões"), or for political interest in favoring the electoral base of this or that candidate. But if this happened, it was not for lack of statistical data. And, of course, it has not prevailed in all searches. Nevertheless, the discrepancy emerged in all of them. Therefore, we must seek the explanation elsewhere.

A second “explanation” that emerged was that part of Jair Bolsonaro’s voters would hide their actual vote because they were ashamed of their choice to give a second term to an incompetent and corrupt manager. This “explanation” is usually associated (in a confusing way) with assessments that the average Brazilian voter lacks class consciousness and that a significant portion of workers and poorer social strata would favor Jair Bolsonaro’s conservative agenda in terms of “morals and customs”. ” to their economic interests.

Now, it is easy to see that this “explanation” does not stand up. It is not a question of denying the importance of customs or the conservatism of a significant portion of the poorest population (especially evangelicals). However, the evangelical and/or “good manners” Bolsonarist is not “ashamed” of his choice for Jair Bolsonaro. And the polls captured the weight of these voters very well. It expressed itself exactly in the broad preference for Jair Bolsonaro by evangelical voters from all income strata. By opposition, Lula was (and is!) the preferred candidate for Catholic voters, atheists or followers of other religions.

But the problem is even bigger. This explanation is self-contradictory. Either a portion of those interviewed are ashamed to declare their intention to vote for Bolsonaro, or the population is politically uninformed, has no class consciousness and fails to realize how corrupt the Bolsonaro government is. If there is shame, there is conscience. But, in this case, why would they vote for a candidate they are ashamed of? It would be more reasonable to think the opposite: that the fear of criticism from their peers (in the conservative elite, in the evangelical community, etc.) would induce them to declare their vote for Jair Bolsonaro, without, in fact, effecting this vote in the ballot box.

But the biggest problem with this “explanation” is that the Brazilian voter does not seem to lack class consciousness. In fact, all electoral polls showed with meridian clarity the socioeconomic cleavage of the typical Bolsonaro and Lula voters. in the search Datafolha made available on September 29, the total vote intention for Lula was 48% and for Bolsonaro it was 34%. But the difference between the two candidates widened when we considered only voters with incomes of up to 2 minimum wages (SMs). In this case, the voting intention for Lula was 57% and for Bolsonaro only 26%. By opposition in the upper strata – between 5 and 10 SMs and above 10 SMs – the situation was reversed: the intention to vote for Bolsonaro (49% and 44%, respectively) was higher than the intention to vote for Lula (33% and 40%). Class cleavage could not be clearer, revealing a heightened awareness of the project differences between the two candidates and the consistency of each of them with the strategic interests of voters.

Finally, it does not seem possible to explain the discrepancy between the forecasts of the polls and the actual vote for the candidates based on sampling problems, embarrassed conservatism or lack of class consciousness. This is not to deny any relevance to these factors. They may have contributed marginally. But they are unable to explain the distance between the predictions and the percentage actually obtained by Jair Bolsonaro. Which brings us back to the question posed initially: to what extent can this discrepancy be explained by an abnormal and biased distribution of voter abstention, which would have increased the percentage of Jair Bolsonaro?

We stated above that the “cost” of voting is not the same for all voters. From the outset, it tends to be higher for those living in rural areas. Which unfolds into an important question: would there be any political inflection in the “grotões” voter? In a certain version of the previous “explanations”, yes, there would be. And this inflection would be pro-Bolsonaro. For the defenders of this thesis, polls of voting intentions (due to cost determinations, or due to mistakes in stratification) would not have adequately captured the vote from the interior. The hypothesis is logically consistent, but it does not fit with the available facts and data. Otherwise, let's see.

Until the conclusion of this article, the TSE had not yet made available information on the abstention rate at the municipal level. However, in a research we carry out to assess the determinants of voting for Jair Bolsonaro and Fernando Haddad in 2018, and which was based on information from the TSE for the 5570 Brazilian municipalities, we found a positive and significant correlation of 0,444 between the percentage of votes for Haddad in the second round and the percentage from the rural population to the municipal population. And a negative and significant correlation of -0,288 between the percentage of votes for Bolsonaro in the first round and the percentage of the rural population in the municipal total.

There is no reason to assume that this correlation has changed significantly. Much less that it was reversed between 2018 and 2022. On the contrary, the data already available on the 2022 elections at the municipal level point to the persistence of the correlation between rurality and voting for the PT candidacy and urbanity and voting for Bolsonaro. The figure below – taken from the G1 site – points in that direction.

From the outset, the figure makes it clear that the main determination of voting for Bolsonaro or Lula is regional: North and Northeast were “Lulist”, while the South, Southeast and Midwest were mostly Bolsonarists. However, as can be seen in Table 1, the Lula regions are precisely those with a higher rurality rate than the Brazilian average (13,78%). As can be seen in the table below, the percentage of the rural population in the Northeast is 24,36% and in the North it is 21,23%. This percentage is much lower (around 10%) in the regions that gave victory to Jair Bolsonaro.

Figure 1

Quadro 1

More: the preservation of the positive correlation between rurality and voting for Lula is not manifested only at the macro-regional level. If we look at the maps of all the Federation Units made available in the g1 website we will see that, even in the states of the South and Southeast where Bolsonaro obtained the most votes, “red spots” emerge representing micro-regions where Lula was the most voted candidate. And these patches – with rare and honorable exceptions – correspond to regions where the rurality rate is higher than the average. In Rio Grande do Sul, the “spots” are found in the Southern Half, in Alto Uruguai and in Campos de Cima da Serra: the three are rural regions.

On the other hand, there is a huge “blue spot” in RS (where Jair Bolsonaro obtained the most votes) that starts in the Metropolitan Region of Porto Alegre and goes to the Northwest Frontier, passing through Canoas, Gravataí, Novo Hamburgo, Caxias do Sul, Passo Fundo, Ijuí and Santa Rosa; that is to say, by the most industrialized and urbanized region of the State.[ii] In Santa Catarina, the red spots are small and sparse, but they are found in the western and central-western portions of the State, eminently rural territories. In Paraná, the big red spot is found in the center-south of the State: the poorest and most rural region of the UF.

São Paulo discreetly differs from the previous FUs in that Lula was the most voted candidate in the capital and in some surrounding industrial municipalities. However, the other (rare) red spots in São Paulo are found in typically rural territories, such as Pontal do Paranapanema and Vale do Paraíba. The same picture can be found in Rio de Janeiro, where Jair Bolsonaro was victorious even in the capital and Lula (besides Niteroi) only performed well in the poor and rural municipalities of Vale do Paraíba (to the south) and to the north, on the border with Rio de Janeiro. Holy Spirit.

Minas Gerais gave victory to Lula, but Jair Bolsonaro was victorious in Belo Horizonte and in the most populous municipalities with the highest per capita income, such as Uberlândia, Contagem and Uberaba. The great red spot (Lulista) is found in the north of the State, where the less urbanized, less industrialized and lower per capita income municipalities are located. The same occurs in Espírito Santo, which gave victory to Jair Bolsonaro (including in the capital, Vitória), but which has a red stain in its northern portion, on the border with Bahia.[iii].

In short: the first round of 2022 seems to have reproduced the statistically identified positive relationship of 2018 between rurality and PT privilege. So that, despite the high participation rate of the North and Northeast regions (driven by the participation rates in the capitals), the Lula-Alckmin ticket seems to have been harmed by the higher abstention rate in the country's small rural municipalities.

Even more important than the political bias of abstaining from the rural vote is the urban bias. After all, more than 86% of the Brazilian population lives in cities. Now, as stated above, the “costs of voting” are also higher for the urban poor. It is very important to understand that cost is not primarily monetary: it is related to time. Winning the universal free pass on Sunday in the first round was, without a doubt, a great victory. But usually, the number of buses circulating on Sundays is less than during the week. For many potential Lula voters – in particular, for residents on the outskirts of large cities – the waiting time for driving “free of charge” can be long.

And even more so for residents of unregulated land, which have a very precarious transport system and whose polling stations are usually several kilometers away. Under these conditions, voting can be laborious and involve spending several hours on the only rest and leisure day of the week. This voter is necessarily faced with the following question: is the “benefit” of my vote worth such a cost?

But what exactly is the benefit of voting? … Contribute to the election of the candidate and the project with which “I” identify? But what is the weight of “my” vote in defining the outcome of the election? Virtually zero. Whether “I” vote or not, the result of the election will not change. This is exactly the “collective action dilemma”, so well analyzed in game theory. When my individual action is incapable of altering a final result and, moreover, this action involves a relatively high cost, I only carry out it if it is imposed as a moral duty and/or if I have a great conviction of the correctness and pertinence of my political decision.

And here lies the crux of the problem. The preference for Lula's candidacy among the low-income population in the countryside and in the city seems unquestionable to me. I believe that it was apprehended essentially correctly in the polls. In fact, I believe that, if there was any deviation in the polls, it was in the sense of underestimating the intention to vote for Lula. After all, it is more reasonable to be “ashamed” and “afraid” to vote for the PT than for the current president. In common sense, Lula is the thief candidate, defender of gays and opponent of evangelical churches. In addition to being the candidate that 9 out of 10 bosses reject and “advise” not to vote “for the good of the company and its job”.

But if the cost of voting is higher for the poorest (who, in their majority, are Lula voters), this subject will only vote if it also brings a greater benefit than expected by voters from higher income strata. : You have to have a lot of confidence in the Lula-Alckmin project. A confidence that the Frente Brasil da Esperança was not able to consolidate with the intensity that would be necessary. The truth is that Lula's campaign did not manage to eliminate the doubts of the “people” about his suitability. And this “doubt-stain” acted as a depressor of the benefit that part of the neediest population attributed to the (costly) exercise of voting.

The confirmation of this hypothesis is not trivial. First of all, the TSE does not provide abstention data by income stratum. But the TSE provides abstention data by age group and educational level. And they give us a clue. Otherwise, let's see.

Abstention by age group was as follows: (1) 16 and 24 years old: 21,89%; (2) 25 and 34 years old: 23,03%; (3) 35 and 44 years old: 18,84%; (4) 45 and 60 years old: 14,88%; (5) over 60 years old: 35,75%. That is: adults between 35 and 60 years old had a significantly lower abstention rate than younger people (16 to 34 years old) and elderly people (over 60 years old). On the other hand, abstention by educational level was: (1) illiterate voters: 46,28%; (2) reads and writes: 28,38%, (3) incomplete primary education: 23,39%; (4) complete fundamental: 24,75%; (5) incomplete secondary education: 22,7%; (6) medium complete: 18,88%; (7) incomplete higher education: 22,08%; (8) higher education, 19,44%; (9) not informed, 54,76%.

Well, all research institutes showed that there was an inverse correlation between the level of education and the intermediate age group and the intention to vote for Lula. What should not surprise anyone: there is a positive, expressive and significant correlation between income and level of education and a positive and significant correlation (although less expressive) between income and age group. In fact, what the TSE data indicate is that the voters who showed a higher degree of abstention were the lower income voters (and vice versa). Precisely among those voters who favored voting for Lula in polls.

 

The consequences of the political bias of abstention

In Table 2 below, we present a very simple numerical exercise, of a purely hypothetical nature, which, we believe, will help the reader to understand the impact of the distance between “intention” and “effective vote” in the percentage distribution of votes for Lula and Bolsonaro.

Quadro 2

The model is built on the following assumptions. Let's imagine that the total number of voters in Brazil was only 100 and that the distribution of voting intentions was such that half of these votes (50%) went to Lula, 35% to Bolsonaro and 15% to the other candidates. Let's imagine, now, that 21 voters did not go to the polls (the effective abstention in Brazil was 20,89%). If abstention had a normal distribution, Lula would lose 10,5 votes, Bolsonaro would lose 7,35 and the “Third Way” would lose 3,15. But if abstention is politically oriented (as we assume) the percentage of the effective vote would be different from the percentage of the intention to vote.

Let us assume that, among the 21 absentees, 13 intended to vote for Lula, only 2 intended to vote for Bolsonaro and the remaining 6 favored the other candidacies. In this case, Lula would have failed to receive the vote of 26% of his potential voters, Bolsonaro would have lost 6%, while the others would have lost 40% of their potential votes. The result of this exercise is that the percentage of votes effectively received by the candidates in relation to the actual votes would be 46,8% for Lula, 41,8% for Bolsonaro and 11,4% for the other candidates. It is important to note that, in this simulation, the percentage of effective votes for Jair Bolsonaro did not grow because he won more voters, but because his voters had the lowest abstention rate.

It is important to understand that we are not denying the possibility that Bolsonaro won last-minute voters based on fake news or in the anti-Lula vote. It is possible and likely that this happened. We are just trying to demonstrate that this movement is not a condition sine qua non for the growth of the percentage of votes in Bolsonaro. Political bias in abstention rates seems to be the main determinant of this “strange” performance.

Finally, observe that, if Lula had lost a slightly higher percentage of voters (26%) than the average abstention rate (20,89%), and if the intention of voting for Lula was only 50%, his percentage in the calculation final would have been only 46,8%. But the effective percentage exceeded 48%. Which points to the hypothesis that the percentage of voting intention was already higher than 50% on October 2nd. If abstention had been lower and/or if the distribution of abstentions had been normal, Lula could have been elected in the first round.

Differences in the abstention rates of different candidates are not only based on differences in the “costs” of voting: there are also differences in the perception of the “benefit” of voting. The expected benefits of voting for the “Third Way” candidates were minimal. If a vote more or less for Lula or Bolsonaro is already perceived by their voters as incapable of altering the final result, even more inconsequential is voting for candidates who do not have the slightest possibility of passing to the second round. Which leverages the abstention of his potential voters from Tebet, Ciro or Soraya.

The resilience of Bolsonaro's voters is also easy to understand: in the upper strata of income and education level and in the intermediate age strata, the costs of electoral participation tend to be very low. Usually, their polling stations are close to their homes. Or voters rely on their own means of transport. On the other hand, poor Bolsonarists with a lower level of education tend to have a high degree of conviction and “moral” commitment to voting for Bolsonaro. Indeed, conviction characterizes religious fanatics, psychopaths, idiots, and fascists at the same time. And if not all Bolsonaro voters fit into these categories, a significant portion does. and the rest is borderline.

Finally, in order to understand the large abstention in Lula's votes, it is necessary to go beyond the socioeconomic arguments outlined above and pay attention to the evolution of candidates' rejection. According to IPEC, the rejection of Lula would have gone from 33% to 38% between the beginning of August and the end of September. Meanwhile, Bolsonaro's rejection rate dropped from 51% to 46%.

We all know that the drop in rejection of Bolsonaro is associated with the “electoral kindness packages”, from Auxílio Brasil to the drop in fuel prices, passing through all the (mis)paths of the Secret Budget. And the rise in rejection of Lula seems to have been catapulted by the rise in shots from fake news by Bolsonarist networks. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are two other elements that, in my view, are still not well understood.

The first element is that the drop in Bolsonaro’s rejection depresses the “perceived benefit of voting for Lula”. The question that arises for potential Lula voters from the periphery is: if the current president is not as bad as he seemed some time ago, why am I going to bear the (high) costs of carrying out my intention to vote for Lula?

The second point is even more important. It does not seem to me that the growth in Lula's rejection rate comes, either exclusively or mainly, from the Bolsonarist "hate office" movements. I believe that the fundamental determination is that Lula's Campaign was unable to win the battle with the car wash. In fact, throughout the campaign, the belief in the endemic corruption of PT governments and in the legal consistency of Mensalão and Petrolão grew again – even among potential Lula voters. Many potential voters on the Lula-Alckmin ticket came to see these candidates only as the “least-worst”. For them, voting for Lula is not a confident, engaged, militant vote. It's just a vote to oppose Bolsonaro. But if this already doesn't seem so bad….

The defeat of Lula's campaign in the face of the car wash was not primarily determined by internal problems. The main reason for this defeat is exogenous and has a first and last name: his name is Ciro Gomes. The PDT candidate structured his entire campaign around criticism of the Lula and Dilma governments. A critique that began with accusations of corruption and progressed to a critique of all economic and social policies of popular governments. In the ideological construction of Ciro Gomes, PT governments would not have faced the country's main economic problems – from financial speculation to deindustrialization – due to a mixture of conservative political options (commitment to bankers) and incompetence. In the dazzling and cesarist fiction of Ciro Gomes, the President of the Republic would have the necessary and sufficient powers to change whatever he wanted; there would be no need to negotiate with Congress, to respect public opinion (largely manipulated by the conservative media), nor to submit to the decisions of a politicized judiciary.

If Ciro Gomes were a neophyte in politics and unaware of the (perverse) structure of power in Brazil, one could even justify his far-fetched speech as an expression of “innocent ignorance”. But it's not the case. Ciro Gomes is not ignorant at all. Much less, innocent. Ciro Gomes knows he lies. But their constituents don't know that. These believe that Ciro Gomes is a left-wing leader, knowledgeable in all matters and a manager capable of articulating and executing the changes that the country needs.

What is important to understand is that Ciro Gomes lent a new stamp of “suitability” to the car wash and coup speech. If the criticisms made by Ciro were expressed only by Bolsonaro, Padre Kelson, Felipe D'Ávila or Soraya Thronicke, the impact on Lula's credibility. But they regained audience as they were supported by a “leftist candidate” who was formerly Lula's minister.

Ciro Gomes and the PDT paid a huge price for the candidate's arrogant, divisive and retrograde stance. This party lost its only two state governments of the acronym (Amapá and Ceará), did not manage to elect a single Senator and had the bench in the Federal Chamber reduced from 19 to 17 deputies. But the nation paid a far greater price than the PDT. Ciro Gomes did not prevent Lula's victory in the first round just by insisting on his unfeasible candidacy. Ciro Gomes gave new impetus to the car wash and is co-responsible for Bolsonaro's high vote and for the inflection to the right of the National Congress. The question that arises now is: what to do in the face of this situation?

 

What to do?

It is essential to bring the voters of Simone Tebet and Ciro Gomes to our field. And this movement is already underway. But even more important is to get voters who intend to vote for Lula to go to the polls: it is necessary to depress their propensity to abstain.

To this end, the second round campaign must have as one of its articulating focuses the recovery of popular confidence in Lula as an opponent of corruption. It is necessary to turn the accusing finger in the direction of those who deserve it. It is necessary to demonstrate that the Bolsonaros are, in fact, corrupt with their 107 properties acquired based on cracks and money laundering in chocolate stores. It is necessary to demonstrate how corrupt this government is, with its shameful Secret Budget, bidding marked cards (even for vaccines) and discretionary, selective, politically oriented and privatist distribution of Education funds.

It is not a question – evidently – of ignoring programmatic issues and our commitments to health, education, employment and income distribution. It is just a question of recognizing that the “weak link in our electoral chain” is found in the conviction, will, and enthusiasm of our potential voters. And if this is the weak link, there is no point in reinforcing the other links in the chain: under tension, it will break in the same place.

The Lula campaign has to wield the UN decision against Lava-Jato, it has to explore the fact that Lula was the victim of a great injustice and it has to have the courage to accuse the Bolsonaro government and its allies by calling them what they are: thieves, corrupt, retrograde, land grabbers, destroyers of the Amazon, genocides, bad managers, destroyers of education, privateers and anti-nationalists.

In addition, it is necessary to expand the “perceived benefit” in the act of voting. Even if, logically, an individual's vote is unable to change any outcome, there is a symbolic benefit accrued by “contributing to the election of the winner”. In order for potential voters to realize that they can participate in this “democracy party” as an agent of victory, they must be convinced of victory even before the election. And the best way to do this is to “carnivalize” the campaign. It is necessary to flag the country with propaganda for the Lula-Alckmin flame, generalize decals on cars, encourage towels and flags in the windows, come out of the woodwork and show that we are already the majority. The visibility of a campaign has enormous mobilizing power. But, today, despite the minority voting intentions for Bolsonar, in many regions of Brazil (with an emphasis on the South, Southeast and Midwest UFs) there are more Brazilian flags on cars than Frente Brasil stickers. Hope. And this tends to deepen the gap between voting intention and voting.

I believe that, with these three movements – the criticism of Lava Jato, the demonstration that Bolsonarism is corrupt, and with the demonstration of our strength and militant determination even before the election – we will be able to reverse the abstention bias in the second round: they are Jair Bolsonaro voters who must ask themselves whether the benefit of their vote is worth the cost of participating. Our voters must be convinced of the value of their vote. It is urgently necessary to regain confidence in the Lula-Alckmin ticket and the pride, courage and joy of participating and of being on the side of civilization against barbarism. If we don't do this, we run the risk of seeing Bolsonaro turn Brazil into an open gutter.

*Carlos Águedo Paiva is a doctor in economics and professor of the master's degree in development at Faccat.

 

Notes


[I] Even the mentors of impeachment process e STF ministers recognize that there were no tax pedals or a crime of responsibility: the impeachment was a political coup carried out on the margins of (and in contradiction with) the Constitution. And even the stones of Serra do Mar know that the result of the 2018 elections is inseparable from the illegal and unfair imprisonment of Lula and his silencing by the STF. A prison classified as lawfare from ONU and whose process, carried out by Sergio Moro, the Judge-Prosecutor, was annulled by the Supreme Court. But with “due delay”, after almost two years of unjust imprisonment.

[ii] The capital, Porto Alegre, is one of the rare exceptions in this great “blue spot”.

[iii] One could argue, against the above thesis, the argument that the two macro-regions that had the lowest abstention rate were precisely the two “Lulist” regions with the highest rate of rurality: North and Northeast. However, this criticism is hasty and rests on undue extrapolation. One cannot infer the abstention rate of municipalities from the abstention rate of the region in which it is inserted. It is possible – and, we insist, likely – that the abstention rate of rural municipalities and, in particular, of the population residing in the countryside in these municipalities, significantly exceeds the average for the region. This is because, like any average, the abstention rate in a region is strongly influenced by extreme values, that is, by the abstention rate in the most populous municipalities. If, in the latter, abstention is significantly lower than the national average, the abstention rate for the region as a whole will be lower than the national rate. Even if this rate is high in rural municipalities with less significant population.

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