Presidential debates are among the key campaigning rituals that have withstood the test of time. Last Sunday, Brazil saw six candidates take the stage for the first debate of the 2022 election cycle — just over a month before Brazilians hit the polls.
All eyes were naturally on the two frontrunners, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and the incumbent, Jair Bolsonaro. Not only because they are the only ones with a realistic shot at winning it all, but also because they have become the faces of political polarization in Brazil.
The level of animosity is such that both requested the debate’s organizers to change the candidates’ positioning, decided by a draw, which had put Lula and Bolsonaro side by side. Instead, centrist candidate Simone Tebet acted as a buffer between the two.
The much-anticipated confrontation ended up being underwhelming. But besides that, have we really learned anything from Sunday’s debate?
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To speak on presidential debates we have invited:
- Beatriz Rey is a senior researcher at the Center for Studies on the Brazilian Congress at the State University of Rio de Janeiro. She holds a Ph.D. in political science from Syracuse University and an M.A. in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
- We have launched a special 2022 election report with everything you need to know about the races for Congress, governorships, and, of course, the presidency. Buy it here! Use the promocode Explaining2022 for a 20-percent discount.
- Here’s our take on the first presidential debate of 2022.
- One of Lula’s weaker points is a rigid communication style online. Social media-savvy supporters are trying to help Lula’s campaign reach new voters and better engage in virtual circles.
- President Bolsonaro’s successful use of social media in the 2018 presidential campaign has led some to think that electoral ads on TV and radio are outdated. But marketers say the power of TV airtime on undecided voters should not be underestimated.
- Brazil’s 2018 election case proves social media’s danger to democracy, wrote Luca Belli, a professor of Internet Governance and Regulation at think tank Fundação Getulio Vargas.
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