Lula and Fernando Haddad

In this week’s issue: The most important facts of the week. Fernando Haddad polls at 15% once voters know he’s Lula’s understudy.

The week in review

  • Stock market. Two events rocked the stock market this week. The first was a report from G1 that the São Paulo State Prosecution Office is considering filing charges against center-right presidential candidate Geraldo Alckmin, suspected of having pocketed BRL 10m in illegal campaign donations. The other was a poll by XP/Ipespe published on Friday showing Fernando Haddad, Lula’s fill-in candidate, polling as high as 15% (more below).
  • Lula 1. The destiny of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva at the Superior Electoral Court is in the hands of Justice Luís Roberto Barroso, a fervent supporter of Brazil’s Clean Slate Law – which prohibits candidates from seeking public office after multiple corruption convictions. In January, Lula was convicted for corruption and money laundering by a court of appeals.
  • Lula 2. Still, the former president gained an ally: the UN human rights committee, which ruled on Friday that he cannot
    be disqualified from the election because his legal appeals are ongoing. Lula&#8217;s defense team say that the decision is binding, as Brazil is a signatory of international treaties. That is, however, not the case.</li> <li><strong>Employment. </strong>There aren&#8217;t sufficient jobs for 27.6m Brazilians: 12.9m are out of a job altogether; 6.5m work less than they would like; 4.8m have given up of finding a job, and 3.3m want to work, but weren&#8217;t available. Over 3m people have been looking for a job for more than 2 years. Still, candidates can only offer generic responses for one of the country&#8217;s most pressing needs.</li> <li><strong>Petrobras. </strong>Petrobras, Brazil&#8217;s state-owned oil and gas company, announced it should begin operations at six new deepwater oil extraction platforms by the end of the year &#8211; and a further two in 2019. That should allow for a daily oil production growth of 46% &#8211; that is, 1.2m extra barrels per day (today, production stands at 2.6m barrels per day).</li> <li><strong>Marielle Franco. </strong>Raul Jungmann, Brazil&#8217;s Minister of Public Security, said the Federal Police is ready to take over the investigations into the assassination of Rio de Janeiro city councilor Marielle Franco. The crime happened on March 14 and the local police department has yet to find the perpetrators.</li> </ul> <hr /> <h2>Fernando Haddad polls at 15% once voters know he&#8217;s Lula&#8217;s understudy</h2> <p>The stock market had a tumultuous day on Friday, after investment bank XP released its latest presidential poll. It shows that when voters are presented with Fernando Haddad&#8217;s name as the candidate who is supported by Lula, his poll numbers jump to 15% &#8211; putting him in a statistical tie with Jair Bolsonaro, the leader in all polls.</p> <h4>What the numbers don&#8217;t show</h4> <p>Haddad&#8217;s numbers could be even higher at this point. That&#8217;s because XP&#8217;s poll, conducted by polling institute Ipespe, is done over the phone &#8211;</p> <p>a method that under-represents poorer voters, a social group where the Workers&#8217; Party performs better than the competition.</p> <ul> <li><em><em><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Why are Brazil’s presidential polls so different from one another?</a></em></em></li> </ul> <hr /> <p><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-24518" src="" alt="polls" width="1200" height="800" srcset=" 1200w, 300w, 768w, 1024w, 610w" sizes="(max-width: 1200px) 100vw, 1200px" /></p> <hr /> <p><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-24519" src="" alt="polls" width="1200" height="800" srcset=" 1200w, 300w, 768w, 1024w, 610w" sizes="(max-width: 1200px) 100vw, 1200px" /><img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-14101" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="683" /><img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-14102" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="683" /></p> <hr /> <p>Friday night&#8217;s debate &#8211; the second of the presidential race &#8211; had a more dynamic format than the previous one (which was widely regarded as a monumental yawn). Candidates were able to engage more with one another and answered questions posed by voters and journalists. But not even the format change was enough to break the candidates&#8217; unwillingness to leave their comfort zones.</p> <p>RedeTV!, the network responsible for the debate, set up a central stage where candidates faced each other to directly ask questions. Center-left candidate Ciro Gomes jokingly called it a &#8220;ring,&#8221; but few battles were fought. Mostly, the questions posed by the presidential candidates were only intended to set up their pre-rehearsed proposals for a given topic. Once again, voters didn&#8217;t learn much more than they already knew by tuning into the debate.</p> <h4>Winners</h4> <ul> <li><strong>Marina Silva.</strong> The environmentalist candidate is often depicted as fragile with little disposition to fight. In 2014, the Dilma Rousseff campaign brutally attacked her on TV ads and debates, to which Ms. Silva had no response. But on Friday she was the one cornering Jair Bolsonaro, the far-right leader in polls, about the gender pay gap. She physically cornered him, as a matter of fact, criticizing his downplaying of women&#8217;s hardship in Brazil&#8217;s male-dominated job market. Then, Ms. Silva tried to attack him on one of Mr. Bolsonaro&#8217;s solid support bases, evangelical voters, asking him what kind of Christian teaches young people how to be violent.</li> <li><strong>Lula and the Workers&#8217; Party.</strong> If imprisoned (and formally a presidential candidate) former President Lula was a non-issue in the first debate, his name was mentioned 10 times on Friday evening. While Mr. Bolsonaro and center-right candidate Álvaro Dias were highly critical of him, former Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles tried to attach his image to Lula&#8217;s. When talking about his time as president of Brazil&#8217;s Central Bank, Henrique Meirelles always mentions that it was &#8220;during Lula&#8217;s administration.&#8221; When talking about his time as Finance Minister, he says &#8220;recently&#8221; as a reference, and never mentions President Michel Temer (who has an approval rate of 3%).<br /> <hr /> </li> </ul> <p><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-24520" src="" alt="debate polls" width="830" height="522" /><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-14103" src="" alt="" width="830" height="522" /></p> <hr /> <h4>Losers</h4> <ul> <li><strong>Jair Bolsonaro.</strong> Besides his verbal spat with Marina Silva (which will only serve to hurt the candidate who already has paltry polling numbers among women), Mr. Bolsonaro often showed nervousness and hesitation. When asked about how to reduce public debt, Mr. Bolsonaro stumbled before giving a completely generic answer: &#8220;My economists say there&#8217;s a way, but it&#8217;s going to be tough. We must reduce the state, and make employees and employers be friends, not foes.&#8221;</li> <li><strong>Geraldo Alckmin.</strong> The former São Paulo Governor is known as being somewhat of a &#8220;semi-skimmed&#8221; candidate. He was once nicknamed the &#8220;chayote popsicle&#8221; &#8211; comparing him to a vegetable Brazilians regard as being tasteless. On Friday, Mr. Alckmin was even duller than usual, repeating the same phrases he used in previous interviews and debates. Despite needing to steal voters from Mr. Bolsonaro, Mr. Alckmin avoided a direct confrontation with the far-right candidate &#8211; which cannot be seen as a sign of strength.

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BY Gustavo Ribeiro

An award-winning journalist with experience covering Brazilian politics and international affairs. His work has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets.