The 2018 presidential election in Brazil has been polarized between two candidates: former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to the left, and Congressman Jair Bolsonaro to the right. It is by no means, however, a symmetric polarization. While Lula is a center-left pragmatist, a social-democrat, Bolsonaro is firmly on the far-right – it is safe to qualify him as Brazil’s answer to the neo-fascist movements in Europe.
Besides those two, all other relevant candidates are placed somewhere around the center: former ministers Marina Silva and Ciro Gomes to the center-left, and São Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin to the center-right. Other presidential hopefuls are as of yet irrelevant – either because they are polling far too low (such as Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles, at 1 percent), or because they have destroyed their own chances (at least for now), in the example of São Paulo Mayor João Doria.
What makes next year’s election so unpredictable is that Lula, the candidate who leads the polls, might not even make it onto the ballot. Convicted of corruption and money laundering, Lula will stand trial before the Federal Appellate Court of the 4th Region late in January. The court has been known for its harsh verdicts, usually upholding the sentences handed down by Federal Judge Sérgio Moro, who presides over Operation Car Wash-related cases.