Lula's favoritism

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The former president consolidates his name on the left and advances toward the center in search of building a broad front

The pre-campaign phase for the October succession has a favorite right now: former President Lula (PT). This finding can be observed not only in polls of voting intentions, but, mainly, when we analyze aspects of the presidential succession that go beyond the coldness of the polling numbers.

This year's presidential race, unlike 2018, will have the economy as the central agenda of the election. As a consequence, the anti-politics narrative, which enabled the victory of a candidate perceived as an outsider in 2018 – the current president Jair Bolsonaro – and the anti-corruption agenda lost space on the agenda.

With the economy at the center of the electoral debate, there are two aspects that are directly connected with Lula's image: (1) the eight years of Lula's government (2003-2010) were the last period in which the country's economy grew and there was social ascension of a significant contingent of the population; and (2) the former president's life and political history connects with the working class segments that are the majority of the population and were the most socially penalized with the GDP retraction and the increase in inflation and unemployment.

It is important to highlight that the candidate's great challenge in a campaign is to connect with the priority demands of the electoral agenda that make his candidacy attractive to the majority of the electorate, mainly to the so-called "average voter", which is the portion of the electoral market that processes your voting decision not only for ideological reasons, but also for a set of variables that positively or negatively impact your day-to-day.

Today, the person who manages to connect with this electorate is Lula. More than that, their main opponents must have difficulties in achieving this connection, unless a new fact occurs.

Jair Bolsonaro, for example, is the candidate of a badly evaluated government. He has a consolidated conservative base in the extreme right field, but he is increasingly distant from the center. Sergio Moro (Podemos) has the narrative of lavajatismo, which still seduces a portion of higher-income voters in large urban centers that broke with Bolsonarism, but his narrative is very reminiscent of 2018.

João Doria (PSDB) has the São Paulo machine in hand, but has an essentially fiscalist agenda. His program is very reminiscent of the “Bridge to the Future” of the Michel Temer (MDB) government.

And Ciro Gomes (PDT), although he has a sympathetic narrative to some segments of the progressive field, has the challenge of repositioning himself and attracting the center vote, which is unlikely to happen due to the scattering of candidacies from the so-called third way and the resistance that the name of Ciro has among the most conservative voters.

In this scenario, Lula has managed to hegemonize the left/center-left vote, in addition to sketching out moves towards the center. Although there are still issues to be resolved, the federation uniting PT, PSB, PCdoB and PV should become viable and isolate Ciro and the PDT. Incidentally, there are sectors in the PDT that internally defend a composition with Lula already in the first round. The same occurs with PSOL, another important party in the progressive field.

In addition to consolidating his name on the left, Lula is advancing towards the democratic center in search of building a broad front against Bolsonarism. In addition to the probable nomination of the former governor of São Paulo, Geraldo Alckmin (No party) with his vice-president, Lula is strengthening the dialogue with the so-called “PSDB of the Constituent Assembly”.

After meetings with former President FHC, Senator Tasso Jereissati, and former Minister Aloysio Nunes Ferreira, in addition to quoting Senator José Serra and remembering the late former Governor Mario Covas, the former President has also been in dialogue with the PSD of Gilberto Kassab and sectors of the MDB, mainly in the Northeast region.

*Carlos Eduardo Bellini Borenstein holds a degree in political science from ULBRA-RS.


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