Notes on the presidential election

Image: Aleksandar Pasaric
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By GILBERTO LOPES*

A Lula victory creates the possibility of a Latin American front capable of opening a window to make voices heard today silenced

It was after two in the morning when the seven – seven! – candidates ended the long debate (another four, because they did not have enough parliamentary representation, did not participate). It was Thursday and, three days before the elections on October 2, the electoral campaign went into obligatory silence.

With Lula approaching an absolute majority – which would allow him to avoid a second round on October 30 – a lot seemed to be at stake. It could have been a propitious stage to tip the scales, adding the undecided votes needed to consolidate the victory.

I think that didn't happen. If, for an important conservative newspaper in São Paulo, Lula won by points from his most immediate rival, President Jair Bolsonaro, for Valter Pomar, member of the National Directorate of the Workers’ Party (PT), “the debate contributed to the occurrence of a second round”. He puts it this way: with the result depending on such a small difference in votes (if we are based on the results of almost all polls), any variation can be critical. And, in the debate – whose format put the candidates to debate against each other –, they were all against Lula.

 

A debate format

I long ago gave up watching such debates, here or anywhere. I made an exception for this one, and was disappointed! It seems to me that television is not good for this. If I'm not mistaken, this trend started in the United States and today they try to convince us that they are an example of “democracy”.

In the United States, it works. There are two candidates who start from the same basic vision and who disagree on very specific issues. Here (and in Latin America in general), with seven candidates (in Costa Rica, for example, there were 25 in the February elections of that year), it is impossible. In addition, there is a larger divergence, impossible to analyze in three minutes.

So, it seems to me, we paid a very high (and very negative) price for turning television into a political stage. It's not a stage for analysis, it's a direct injection into a vein. In the case of Thursday's debate in Brazil, the clearest (and most cynical) message came from a party that calls itself "Novo", a liberal fantasy that calls for "taking the burden of the State off the shoulders of the people", privatize everything, and assures us that competition is the way to lower costs. As if the world hadn't been on this path since the end of the Cold War, with the dramatic consequences of the economic and social polarization that led to the current political chaos!

But in the minute of television, the message can get through. In one way or another, in different versions, with nuances, it was the same for all six candidates, except Lula. I found it impossible to finish watching the debate. It started at 22:30 pm and ended after two in the morning. It wasn't worth it.

But I couldn't help being impressed by the hubbub between Lula and a pathetic candidate disguised as a priest (who certainly won't receive 0,5% of the vote), who began to provoke the former president. And he did. She insulted him, and Lula responded. I was surprised to see Lula fall for this provocation. But, in an intelligent article on “What the election in the first round depends on”, the journalist Maria Cristina Fernandes had already warned us that the best stage for Lula was the public square, not the regulated television debate.

Lula did not speak to the public, he spoke to his interlocutor, one at a time, all against him. For me it was a mistake. He did not assume his role as the winning candidate, as the clear favorite, he did not stand out from the rest. Should have done it, could have done it. And something else: he lacked a sense of humor. To all of them. A certain joy. No one introduced her.

 

the political offer

Less than a week ago, Lula spoke at an event called “Brazil of hope”. She explained the approach of her current vice-presidential candidate, Geraldo Alckmin, a traditional political opponent. “It is necessary to unite the divergent ones, to fight the antagonistic ones”, she explained. And it did so in a way that seemed unimaginable, attracting businessmen and politicians, leaders from the most diverse areas, until recently enemies of the PT. After four years of a president who was not only corrupt, but also cynical and totally unprepared for the post, Brazil aspires to return to a certain “normality”.

For some, Lula's effort in this direction is spurious; but for most it is necessary. “In the beginning,” said Lula, “we were just three parties. Now we are ten!” He recalled that, in his two previous governments, 22 million jobs were created, that Brazil was the sixth largest economy in the world; that today 33 million people in the country have nothing to eat; ten million are unemployed and almost 40 million live informally.

A dreadful, unsustainable scenario! He promised to return to invest in infrastructure, to resume the social programs that Bolsonaro ruined, to renegotiate the debts that afflict 70% of Brazilian families, to correct income tax distortions, to reinvest in small and medium-sized rural producers and in family farming, among many others. measurements. Among them, the strengthening of strategic national companies, such as Petrobras, the scene of enormous acts of corruption that served as the basis for the so-called Lava Jato operation, a judicial operation that, through all kinds of tricks, later disqualified by the superior courts, landed him in prison and contributed to delivering these resources to private investors.

Since, in the campaign, everything is up for debate, opponents accuse Lula of having granted more benefits to bankers than to ordinary people during his previous administrations. “It's true that businessmen made money,” said Lula, who met in São Paulo with some of the most important businessmen in the country, almost all of whom are traditional opponents of his. It will not be much different in a new government.

But a Brazil with a sovereign policy will make all the difference in Latin America. With a polarized world, with Washington committed to military solutions on the most sensitive fronts of Russia and China, with Europe silenced and subjected to these policies, the world has never seen the possibility of a nuclear conflict so close.

A Lula victory creates the possibility of a Latin American front capable of opening a window to make voices heard today silenced – including the most sensible European and North American voices – that will help guide the new world scenario. An effort that Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has already initiated. It won't be a small thing!

*Gilberto Lopes is a journalist, PhD in Society and Cultural Studies from the Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR). author of Political crisis of the modern world (Uruk).

Translation: Fernando Lima das Neves

 

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