Elect Lula in the first round

Image: Michelle Guimaraes


Without a victory in the first round, it will be much more difficult to contain the advance of the coup d'état.

A resounding victory for Lula in the 1st round does not eliminate the risks of a coup d'état. The pretexts for questioning the election result do not depend on Jair Bolsonaro's performance at the polls. For Bolsonarism, the elections were rigged in advance, since Alexandre de Moraes and the TSE did not give in to the impositions of the military. In his conspiracy narrative, if the difference in votes is wide, it will be taken precisely as evidence of fraud, due to his discrepancy in relation to “Datapovo”. If the difference is narrow, it will be seen as an unequivocal demonstration of the manipulation of research institutes, which would have acted to hide the Bolsonarist majority in society and legitimize electoral fraud. The document released by the PL, resuming the attacks on the electoral system, shows that, for Bolsonarism, the process is already discredited, regardless of the result.

The threat of a coup will persist as long as Bolsonarism is considered a legitimate force and has its political rights assured. The pressure for the annulment of the elections and the attempt to prevent the “return of communism” will continue even after October, so that it will not be enough just to defeat Bolsonarism at the polls, it will be necessary to build strength in society to guarantee ownership and manage to govern. It will not be enough just to increase social and political support, as Lula's candidacy has done (in my view correctly). Social mobilization will be necessary, because, paraphrasing Luís Fernando Veríssimo, “Our side is right but their side is armed”.

That said, I think we have more consistent reasons and arguments to defend the settlement of the bill in the first round.

In the first place, as has already been argued by different analysts and political leaders, victory in the first round increases the political costs for the coup, as it involves annulling the election of 513 deputies and 27 senators, apart from the state governments that can be elected already. in the first round (polls indicate this possibility for about 10-14 states). It would be entirely possible for the coup plotters to annul or suspend the elections in the second round, without changing the results of the first, thus neutralizing any challenges from the centrão and the physiological parties.

Second, in the four weeks between the first and second rounds, new and unexpected events can happen, further reducing the gap between Lula and Bolsonaro. There are many variables at play, and, although at the moment Bolsonarism appears to have reached a ceiling, nothing guarantees that this trend is irreversible and that it cannot be changed. The second round may indeed be a new election. It is illusory to make static projections in an unstable and shifting conjuncture. It is not given, for example, that Jair Bolsonaro cannot collect dividends from social benefits that only started to be distributed in August. While this does not appear to be the most likely scenario under today's conditions, it cannot simply be ruled out.

Thirdly, because, in addition to Bolsonarism, the second round interests the forces that are reluctant to adhere to Lula's candidacy, represented in the “third way”. The trend is that, going into the second round, Lula will have to make more concessions in his program to attract and consolidate sectors that are still hesitant to support him. An even greater programmatic downgrade than the current one presents serious risks for the future, significantly limiting the elected government's room for maneuver and potentially frustrating the masses who elected him with expectations of change. Recent experiences in Peru, Argentina and Chile have something to teach in this regard: governments elected by the left that, once in power, apply a moderate neoliberalism, lose social support and find themselves walled in by the opposition. This scenario can be even more tragic in the face of an openly coup-like opposition with mass support.

In addition to these, other arguments can be listed, such as the possible discouragement of progressive militancy and a probable increase in intimidation and political violence between the first and second rounds.

That is, victory in the first round does not offer guarantees, but without it it will be much more difficult to contain the advance of the coup d'état. For this reason, for all those who are aware of the risks that Bolsonarism represents, the useful vote for Lula in the first round should be considered.

* André Flores is a doctoral candidate in political science at Unicamp and a member of the Popular Consultation.


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