Elections for Congress are overlooked in Brazil

In this week’s issue: A special look into tomorrow’s election.

Main takes from the election

  • The final push. Historically in Brazil, candidates that benefit from a final “wave” of support tend to win. Last week, it seemed as if Fernando Haddad would have the final say and looked to be in with a chance of leading the first round, but Jair Bolsonaro struck back and could win it all tomorrow. The Workers’ Party camp has finally started a more aggressive WhatsApp-based campaign, trying to prevent a first-round win for Mr. Bolsonaro and create a new wave of support. 
  • A different silent vote. According to telephone polls (which, in theory, overrepresent higher-income, right-leaning voters) carried out by DataPoder360, the gap between Jair Bolsonaro and Fernando Haddad is closer than shown in other polls. Mr. Haddad would be around 25%, with Mr. Bolsonaro just over 30%. It signals the possibility of a hidden, silent vote for Mr. Haddad: voters who are against Mr. Bolsonaro, but won’t admit voting for Lula’s party. Traditionally, the silent vote benefits more right-wing radical candidates. But in a Brazil overtaken by anti-Lula sentiment, the opposite may have happened.
    </li> <li><strong>The new right-wing mainstream.</strong><strong> </strong>Whatever happens in the presidential race, it is certain that Mr. Bolsonaro is the biggest winner. Just six years ago, he was an irrelevant, fringe politician. Now, he is the face of Brazilian conservatism, to the point that he has forced right-wing candidates into defending his proposals (even if these candidates historically defended the opposite). In São Paulo, the leaders of the gubernatorial race want to attach themselves to Mr. Bolsonaro, with poll leader João Doria saying that, if elected, he will instruct the state police to &#8220;shoot to kill criminals&#8221; as of January 1st.</li> <li><strong>An election fueled by fake news.</strong> Never before has social media played a bigger role in an election. Without airtime on TV or radio, frontrunner Jair Bolsonaro campaigned on WhatsApp Messenger &#8211; the go-to social media channel in Brazil which is used by 97m voters. It is impossible to measure the effects of fake news on voter behavior, but as the encrypted messaging service allows people to share anything without being traced, it is ideal terrain for the spreading of false information &#8211; and all camps in this election did it. Earlier this year, the Superior Electoral Justice created a task force against fake news &#8211; which didn&#8217;t hold a single meeting in four months.</li> <li><strong>Division will continue.</strong><strong> </strong>Brazil entered the 2018 campaign a divided country. When the election is over, it will be just as divided. Mainstream candidates, both to the left and right, offered little to pacify a nation marred by appalling levels of inequality and social divisions. Whoever wins the presidential race will certainly face an opposition that is unwilling to negotiate. As Brazil&#8217;s sluggish economy is still failing to create jobs, the new president could also face social turmoil and low approval ratings right off the bat. It will not be a calm presidency, regardless of the winner.</li> <li><strong>The new Congress.</strong><strong> </strong>Diap, a department in Congress which supports lawmakers with data, has launched its projection for Brazil&#8217;s next legislature. Mainstream parties such as the Workers&#8217; Party, the Brazilian Democratic Movement, and the Social Democracy Party should remain the House&#8217;s biggest. Evangelicals, landowners, and gun lobbyists supporting Mr. Bolsonaro are discussing the creation of a new party, which is a lengthy process, but they could create a new, united, and ultra-conservative front in the meantime.<br /> <hr /> </li> </ul> <p><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-24583" src="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/unnamed-33.png" alt="election congress" width="1168" height="914" srcset="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/unnamed-33.png 1168w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/unnamed-33-300x235.png 300w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/unnamed-33-768x601.png 768w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/unnamed-33-1024x801.png 1024w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/unnamed-33-610x477.png 610w" sizes="(max-width: 1168px) 100vw, 1168px" /></p> <hr /> <h2>Keep up with the main polls</h2> <p>Data from both Ibope and Datafolha.</p> <hr /> <p><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-24584" src="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/unnamed-34.png" alt="polls election 2018" width="1200" height="800" srcset="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/unnamed-34.png 1200w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/unnamed-34-300x200.png 300w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/unnamed-34-768x512.png 768w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/unnamed-34-1024x683.png 1024w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/unnamed-34-610x407.png 610w" sizes="(max-width: 1200px) 100vw, 1200px" /></p> <hr /> <h2>Brazilians choosing the lesser evil</h2> <p>For voters both to the left and to the right, this is the &#8220;anti&#8221; election. Those who are anti-Workers&#8217; Party will vote for whoever best represents an antithesis of the center-left party which ruled Brazil for 13 years. Those who are anti-Jair Bolsonaro, the former Army captain with an authoritarian demeanor, will vote for pretty much anyone else left. No presidential candidate has more voting intentions than his/her rejection rate (people who would never vote for him/her). That&#8217;s a first in Brazil, and shows to which extent did Brazil&#8217;s party system lost credibility (chart = top 5 candidates).</p> <hr /> <p><img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-14049" src="http://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/7d19a63a-b04c-49d6-82ae-a6b6e2d42427-1024x683.png" alt="" width="1024" height="683" /><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-24585" src="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/unnamed-35.png" alt="brazil 2018" width="1200" height="800" srcset="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/unnamed-35.png 1200w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/unnamed-35-300x200.png 300w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/unnamed-35-768x512.png 768w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/unnamed-35-1024x683.png 1024w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/unnamed-35-610x407.png 610w" sizes="(max-width: 1200px) 100vw, 1200px" /></p> <hr /> <h2>What have we learned from this year&#8217;s campaign</h2> <p><strong>1. Without Lula, Lulism is limited</strong><strong>.</strong> Since 2006, no endorsement has been more consequential for a candidate than Lula&#8217;s. The most popular (and polarizing) politician in Brazilian history is a charismatic leader capable of making people like his allies, no matter how uncharismatic and unknown to the public they might be. It happened with Dilma Rousseff for president in 2010 and 2014, and Fernando Haddad for mayor of São Paulo in 2012. Why has Lula&#8217;s endorsement in 2018 not created the same wave of support? With Lula arrested, his participation in the campaign was limited to some segments in TV/radio ads. His absence in rallies around the country proved too crippling for Mr. Haddad&#8217;s campaign.</p> <hr /> <p><strong>2. </strong>However, the <strong>Workers&#8217; Party remains strong</strong> &#8211; thanks in large part to Dilma Rousseff&#8217;s impeachment in 2016. That galvanized the party&#8217;s support base. Since direct presidential elections were re-established in Brazil, in 1989, the Workers&#8217; Party has finished, at least, in second place.</p> <hr /> <p><strong>3.</strong> The campaign has also shown that Brazil is not over the <strong>right/left dichotomy</strong>. One half of the country clearly votes for the left, against the right. The other votes for the right, against the left. The capacity of Jair Bolsonaro and Fernando Haddad to make voters in their gravitational fields get fired up will decide the outcome of the election &#8211; whether it gets decided tomorrow or on October 28.</p> <hr /> <p><strong>4. TV campaigning is not important as it used to be, but it remains relevant. </strong>Pundits and establishment politicians predicted that, as TV campaigning kicked off, social democrat Geraldo Alckmin would rise in the polls, thus muscling far-right Jair Bolsonaro out. That obviously didn&#8217;t happen. However, the Workers&#8217; Party only managed to show strength, despite a widespread rejection from parts of the electorate, thanks to its 20% share of TV/radio airtime for parties. That being said, the truth is that Mr. Bolsonaro success will be a paradigm shift for Brazilian politics.</p> <hr /> <h2>TBR 2018 Election hub</h2> <p>Click <a href="https://brazilian.report/tag/2018-election/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a> to read all of our content about this year&#8217;s election.

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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.