Panorama seen from the bridge

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By LUIS FELIPE MIGUEL*

Considerations on the electoral situation of presidential candidates in the October 2022 elections

The candidacy of Luís Inácio Lula da Silva continues from strength to strength. The strategy chosen by the former president is – to use a neutral word – debatable, especially in terms of its post-electoral effects, but this is a subject for another reflection. Since he regained political rights, he has managed to position himself as the antithesis of the Bolsonarist nightmare, becoming practically the only option from the center to the left. Although another very heavy campaign is coming, from the fake news to the miniseries of TV Globo, drops as the clear favorite.

As for Jair M. Bolsonaro, the best path would perhaps be to give up an unlikely re-election and try for a parliamentary mandate in Rio de Janeiro, guaranteeing immunity. But such a step is contradictory to the person policy that he created and with the maintenance of his fanatical base (in addition to demanding the incompatibilization of the position). It must, therefore, follow the path of Donald Trump: disrupt the process as much as possible, bet on high-risk maneuvers and always maintain a high capacity for disruption, in order to inhibit legal measures against him by a future democratic government.

João Doria knows that his chances in the election are close to zero. But he maintains his candidacy to remain the owner of the PSDB estate. I imagine that he will prioritize Rodrigo Garcia's campaign in São Paulo – a tough race, even though the vice-governor is the biggest potential beneficiary with the withdrawal of Geraldo Alckmin's candidacy. For Doria, above all, the victory in São Paulo may be innocuous. As he so well exemplifies, sponsorship today does not guarantee loyalty tomorrow.

Sérgio Moro's candidacy is going through the roof. Even after the carnival held around his return to the race and with the undisguised sympathy of the media, he shows a tendency to retreat in the polls – he no longer has the isolated third position, he is tied with Ciro Gomes. He remains singularly inept at oral expression, slow of reasoning, uninformed of reality. He makes stupid mistakes – for example, in the long interview he gave to Flow – by the way sponsored by a website advertising prostitution – repeated attacks against Bolsa Família that the Brazilian right already abandoned more than ten years ago.

Every week, a new judicial setback exposes the farce that was Operation Lava Jato. Finally, the relationship very dangerous with the company Alvarez & Marsal it shows a devastating flank. His last card is to leverage himself thanks to a polarization with Lula, but the PT would have to be very naive to fall for this trick. It is likely that he is already thinking about how to promote a tactical retreat and transfer himself to the Senate race for the state of Paraná.

Ciro Gomes finally realized that he was not going to seduce the center-right and tried yet another brand repositioning, again at the center-left. But it is unlikely that he will be able to advance. His erratic and opportunistic behavior from 2018 onwards has generated deep resentments. And despite the marketing competent, it can't help but be old news. If he were more rational, he would be negotiating support for Lula today. If not, it is likely that 2022 will be for him what 2018 was for Marina Silva: the end of the line.

Rodrigo Pacheco, Simone Tebet, Alessandro Vieira, André Janones, Felipe d'Ávila – they are all factoids. They can give up now, they can even dispute, but they are nothing more than bargaining chips, for the first or second round.

The PSOL will hardly launch its own candidacy, even with the PT's increasingly explicit nods to a composition with the right. If you bid, it will be difficult to have traction to influence the debate, getting closer to the niche of symbolic candidacies from the left (PSTU, perhaps PCB or UP) than to the core of the real dispute.

With the main presidential candidacies of outsiders (Luciano Huck, José Luiz Datena, etc.) discarded last year, it seems that the October election will really be configured as a clash between Lula and Bolsonaro.

* Luis Felipe Miguel He is a professor at the Institute of Political Science at UnB. Author, among other books, of The collapse of democracy in Brazil (Popular Expression).

Originally posted on the author's Facebook page.

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