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Paraguay and the Future President of Brazil: Bolsonaro or Lula?

Paraguay de cara al futuro presidente del Brasil: ¿Bolsonaro o Lula?

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Brazil, the giant of South America, a subcontinent with more than 200 million inhabitants, will decide its future definitively on Sunday, October 30. Much has been said about the presidential elections held last Sunday, October 2, which ended up being the first round, whose results are already public knowledge, the only two seats available were left for the great favorites of the race, namely: the current president and conservative Jair Bolsonaro who won 43% of the votes and; the ultra-leftist and founder of the Sao Paulo Forum, former president Luiz Inácio “Lula” Da Silva, who won 48% of the votes.

Among the first readings that jump out of this result is that all pollsters, both Brazilian and international, failed, giving Lula of the Workers’ Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores, PT in Portuguese) as the winner by a very large majority (more than 10 percentage points). Some even claimed that he would win in the first round.

But the reality hit their projections, as Bolsonaro (leader of the Social Liberal Party), against all odds and despite all the major television networks and the progressive press, narrowed the gap to just 5%.

With this scenario, far from being eliminated from the presidential race, it puts the current Brazilian president in a way better position than what polls claimed. A difficult rival with whom candidate Lula will have to deal with, forced to concentrate his attention more on the election than on the race for the presidency.

A second fact to be considered in the analysis is abstention. 156 million Brazilians were eligible to exercise their right to vote last Sunday, and approximately 75% of them went to the polls. This means that the great dispute and the decisive factor for the second round lies, to a great extent, in those 11 million voters who chose to abstain.

Finally, of course, there are the voters who voted for the eliminated candidates that took approximately 9% of the vote, such as center-right Senator Simone Tebet of the Democratic Movement of Brazil (MDB), who was third in the first round, and Ciro Gomes of the center-left Democratic Workers’ Party (PDT), both of whom have already closed ranks with Lula.

But this does not mean that this 9% will go en bloc with Lula. The MDB is fractured because, while Tebet joined Lula, his running mate, the former judge and minister of justice Sergio Moro (now a senator-elect) joined Bolsonaro. In addition to this, the president is concentrating his efforts on establishing alliances with regional leaders -closer to the people- as in the case of Rodrigo Garcia, Romeu Zema and Claudio Castro, Governors of Sao Pualo, Minas de Gerais and Rio de Janeiro, three densely populated states,.

Now, once this context is exposed, I want to return to the initial part of this article, which is precisely a question that my colleague Diego Martinez from America TV – Paraguay asked me when I was developing my usual segment of an international analysis, he said: “What is more convenient for Paraguay, Bolsonaro or Lula?

Before venturing to give a name, I appealed to one of the most important variables: the economy. In this regard, I recalled that the Bolsonaro government has been one of the few to effectively combat inflation, an evil that has plagued the vast majority of countries today. Brazil today registers cumulative inflation of just 4.7% in 2022, an enviable figure when compared to its peers in the region such as Venezuela (137%), Argentina (71%), Chile (13%) and Colombia (10%). Even well below the current inflation in the United States and Euro-zone countries.

Finally, it is worth noting that Bolsonaro during his administration not only avoided macro-corruption scandals unlike his contender Lula and his successor Dilma Rousseff, the left-wing duo that led the Amazonian giant to a real ruin, high inflation, an explosion of poverty and to the brink of recession. Bolsonaro has been able to generate solid confidence in the market which has translated into economic welfare for the general public. In fact, it is in Paraguay’s interest to have a strong and economically healthy neighbor, since it translates into an important factor that directly benefits trade and the economy, a situation that only Bolsonaro seems to be able to guarantee.

Nahem Reyes is a PhD in history from the Andrés Bello Catholix University and associate member of the American Studies Center of the Central University of Venezuela. // Nahem Reyes es doctor en Historia de la Universidad Católica Andrés Bello y miembro asociado del Centro de Estudios de América de la Universidad Central de Venezuela.

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