Chaos and uncertainty reign in Brazil’s 2018 election

. Nov 30, 2017
Brazil’s 2018 election Who will win Brazil’s 2018 election? Photo: Marcello Casal/ABr
Brazil’s 2018 election

Who will win Brazil’s 2018 election? Photo: Marcello Casal/ABr

Brazil has less than twelve months to choose its next president – and yet the only thing we know for sure is that no one knows anything. But adding to the impending electoral chaos is the uncertainty surrounding what candidates might be on the ballot, which simply adds to our national uncertainty and sends reverberations through foreign markets.

With populism and non-establishment candidates triggering shocks in the global political system over the last few years, Brazil is bracing itself to expect the unexpected. While support for far-right Congressman Jair Bolsonaro and former President Lula da Silva appears to be stable, polls of voting intentions also reveal significant increases among the number of null or blank votes Brazilians intend to cast: between October 2016 and September this year, the number increased by over ten percent, to 21.2 percent of respondents.

Here’s The Brazilian Report’s rundown of the potential political figures that could make their way into Brazil’s 2018 election.

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva

lula Brazil’s 2018 election

Brazil’s 2018 election will be Lula’s 6th presidential race. Photo: Ricardo Stuckert

Brazil’s two-term former president is seeing his popularity endure in opinion polls. This is in spite of the prison sentence he currently faces for corruption – though this isn’t the first time that Lula has been widely supported in polls while facing heavy corruption accusations. Back in 2005, Lula retained 30 percent of voting intentions despite accusations that his administration bribed congressmen in exchange for legislative support.

</p> <p>However, the Workers’ Party leader has a rockier path to climb before Brazil’s 2018 election. In the 2002 election, Lula had roughly 30 percent of voting intentions; he took home the election despite market opposition. While he currently enjoys voting intentions above 36 percent, uncertainty remains for the 2018 scenario. The 2016 municipal election resulted in heavy losses across Brazil for his political family, which suffered its worst setback since 1980.</p> <p>Nor do financial markets hold Lula in high regard: a report released this week from capital markets firm XP Investimentos predicted that if Lula were to win in 2018, the value of the Brazilian Real (BRL) would tumble by 26 percent, making $1 equivalent to a little over 4.10 BRL.</p> <h3>Jair Bolsonaro</h3> <div id="attachment_977" style="width: 810px" class="wp-caption alignnone"><img aria-describedby="caption-attachment-977" loading="lazy" class="size-full wp-image-977" src="" alt="extreme right brazil" width="800" height="522" srcset=" 800w, 300w, 768w, 610w" sizes="(max-width: 800px) 100vw, 800px" /><p id="caption-attachment-977" class="wp-caption-text">Bolsonaro and his groupies in Brasília. Photo: Gustavo Ribeiro</p></div> <p>Bolsonaro has tripled in popularity over the last year, with voting intentions rising from 3.3 percent to <a href="">15 percent</a> (according to some polls) over an eleven-month period. Bolsonaro’s outspoken social conservatism and hard-on-crime stance have earned him favor among Brazil’s increasingly conservative electorate. Yet despite being the second most popular candidate among voters in opinion polls, the Social Christian Party (PSC) candidate has openly refused to discuss economic policy and is also facing opposition from the financial sector.</p> <p>According to XP Investimentos research, Bolsonaro’s name was met with the second largest predicted financial downturn, with 12 percent of respondents predicting a negative economic impact should he win the election. Meanwhile, 17 percent predicted a fall in currency value: 7 percent predict that this scenario would value one dollar at 4.10 BRL, while 10 percent believe it would be one dollar to between 3.90 and 4.10 BRL.</p> <h3>Geraldo Alckmin</h3> <div id="attachment_1552" style="width: 2058px" class="wp-caption alignnone"><img aria-describedby="caption-attachment-1552" loading="lazy" class="size-full wp-image-1552" src="’s-2018-election.jpg" alt="geraldo alckmin Brazil’s 2018 election" width="2048" height="1190" srcset="’s-2018-election.jpg 2048w,’s-2018-election-300x174.jpg 300w,’s-2018-election-768x446.jpg 768w,’s-2018-election-1024x595.jpg 1024w" sizes="(max-width: 2048px) 100vw, 2048px" /><p id="caption-attachment-1552" class="wp-caption-text">Geraldo Alckmin will try to snatch the presidency in Brazil’s 2018 election. Photo: A2img</p></div> <p>The other big name in the upcoming election, São Paulo governor and potential PSDB candidate Geraldo Alckmin is yet to register popularity in the polls. He has only 8 percent of voting intentions, despite the fact that he was the runner-up in the 2006 race. Like many other establishment names, Alckmin has found his reputation dirtied by Operation Car Wash. Despite this, 46 percent of the wealth managers, economists, and consultants surveyed by XP Investimentos believed an Alckmin victory to be likely. Moreover, 28 percent of these experts projected that should Alckmin take the election, the US dollar would equal between 2.80 and 3 BRL. And 10 percent even predicted exchange rates as high as one US dollar to below 2.80 BRL.</p> <p>However, political predictions aren’t sharing the same levels of optimism for Alckmin. In scenarios where Alckmin reaches the second round in the federal elections, he would be expected to win just 23.2 percent of the vote against Lula. In scenarios without Lula, Marina da Silva (Rede) would be expected to win over Alckmin – despite not registering among the top candidates considered by XP Investimentos, and the fact that she retains just over 1.5 percent of voting intentions in comparison to Alckmin’s 1.2 percent.</p> <h3>João Doria</h3> <div id="attachment_865" style="width: 2010px" class="wp-caption alignnone"><img aria-describedby="caption-attachment-865" loading="lazy" class="size-full wp-image-865" src="" alt="São Paulo’s Mayor João Doria" width="2000" height="1318" srcset=" 2000w, 300w, 768w, 1024w, 610w" sizes="(max-width: 2000px) 100vw, 2000px" /><p id="caption-attachment-865" class="wp-caption-text">São Paulo’s Mayor João Doria. Photo: Heloísa Ballarini/Secom</p></div> <p>The true “outsider” among 2018’s potential candidates, João Doria (PSDB) caused friction in his own party when he openly considered his candidacy. For a moment, PSDB seemed divided over whether to back Doria or Alckmin. Doria’s reputation, however, is suffering after his first year as mayor of São Paulo and doesn’t like Alckmin’s control over the party’s São Paulo branch. As a result, the party seems to have rallied around the governor and will choose him as its next chair.</p> <p>Doria’s attempt to <a href="">distribute pellet-like</a>, industrialized foodstuffs to the city’s poorer residents generated a huge backlash. While defending the move, the new mayor also wound up publicly supporting looser definitions of slave labor – unsurprisingly, that generated widespread popular disgust across Brazil. Combined with a travel-heavy schedule, the businessman-turned-politician who won his municipal elections by a landslide must now face the fact that 26 percent of the electorate rated his management as ‘poor’.</p> <p>Markets are also on the fence about Doria: only 3 percent of XP Investimento’s respondents believed he was capable of winning in 2018, while political scientists believe that the economy would be better served by experienced politicians. He currently captures just 2.4 percent of voting intentions. If he were to face off against Lula in the second round, he would likely earn just over 25 percent of the vote.</p> <h3>Marina Silva</h3> <div id="attachment_1554" style="width: 2058px" class="wp-caption alignnone"><img aria-describedby="caption-attachment-1554" loading="lazy" class="wp-image-1554 size-full" src="’s-2018-election.jpg" alt="marina silva Brazil’s 2018 election" width="2048" height="1073" srcset="’s-2018-election.jpg 2048w,’s-2018-election-300x157.jpg 300w,’s-2018-election-768x402.jpg 768w,’s-2018-election-1024x537.jpg 1024w" sizes="(max-width: 2048px) 100vw, 2048px" /><p id="caption-attachment-1554" class="wp-caption-text">Will Marina Silva be a part of Brazil’s 2018 election? Photo: Elza Fiuza/ABr</p></div> <p>An environmentalist icon, as well as a former senator and environment minister under Lula, Marina Silva seems to possess all the traits required of a president. However, there is more to her story than meets the eye. The politician from Acre is accused of removing herself from the public spotlight between elections. Silva has failed to turn her party, Rede Sustentabilidade, into a viable “third way” option in the Brazilian political landscape. In 2016, the party claimed victory over just one mayoral race for a state capital: Macapá, a politically irrelevant city.</p> <p>An evangelical with liberal ideas, Marina seems to pander to both conservatives and the left – and fails to truly galvanize either camp. In both 2010 and 2014, Marina came in third place. Earlier this week, the politician said that she is still undecided about whether or not to enter the 2018 presidential race. Due to the small size of her party, she would only have the right to 12 seconds of airtime for TV and radio ads during the political campaign. In 2014, she had over 2 minutes to deliver her message.</p> <h3>Henrique Meirelles</h3> <div id="attachment_1065" style="width: 1819px" class="wp-caption alignnone"><img aria-describedby="caption-attachment-1065" loading="lazy" class="size-full wp-image-1065" src="" alt="Paradise Papers Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles" width="1809" height="963" srcset=" 1809w, 300w, 768w, 1024w, 610w" sizes="(max-width: 1809px) 100vw, 1809px" /><p id="caption-attachment-1065" class="wp-caption-text">Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles. Photo: José Cruz/ABr</p></div> <p>For months, the presidential ambitions of Finance Minister Henrique <span class="il">Meirelles </span>have been the subject of speculation. In November, <span class="il">Meirelles</span> himself added fuel to the fire, admitting to <em>Veja</em> magazine that he could be on the ballot in 2018.</p> <p>When <span class="il">Meirelles</span> took his position as finance minister, it was seen by many analysts as a stepping stone to the presidency. Of course, that was based on the perception that once the embattled former <span class="il">President</span> Dilma Rousseff was out of the picture, <span class="il">Meirelles</span> and <span class="il">President</span> Temer would lead a reformist agenda, promoting an overhaul of Brazil&#8217;s expensive and under-performing state.</p> <p>One and a half years later, the results are rather <a href="">underwhelming</a>. While the government did approve a spending cap, it failed to reform the pension system &#8211; and the economy shows signs of recovery much slower than predicted. Those results, combined with the fact that <span class="il">Meirelles</span> is not necessarily a known face to Brazilians who are not working in investment banking, put him with just 1 percent of voting intentions for the 2018 race.</p> <h3>Luciano Huck</h3> <div id="attachment_1324" style="width: 1090px" class="wp-caption alignnone"><img aria-describedby="caption-attachment-1324" loading="lazy" class="wp-image-1324 size-full" src="" alt="luciano huck president" width="1080" height="541" srcset=" 1080w, 300w, 768w, 1024w, 610w" sizes="(max-width: 1080px) 100vw, 1080px" /><p id="caption-attachment-1324" class="wp-caption-text">Luciano Huck could be competitive in Brazil’s 2018 election. Photo: Globo</p></div> <p>The TV presenter has denied his potential presidential candidature on several occasions, most recently <a href="">this week</a>. Huck’s name became the source of increasing speculation as Operation Car Wash implicated increasing numbers of mainstream politicians, causing “outsider” candidates to gain popularity among the Brazilian electorate. In an Ibope survey this month, Huck won 8 percent of voting intentions. XP Investimentos analysts believed that he had the second most favorable profile among 2018’s candidates, just after Alckmin.</p> <p>Political scientists believe it would be difficult for Huck to backpedal on his refusal and go ahead with a bid for 2018, despite his <a href="">apparent popularity</a>. As one of the more popular potential candidates, Alckmin may benefit from Huck’s decision should Doria decide against running. With his decision to instead join civic movements and foster discussion of a “country project for Brazil”, Huck is ultimately leaving an opening for a center-right candidate to gain votes.

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Ciara Long

Based in Rio de Janeiro, Ciara focuses on covering human rights, culture, and politics.

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