Left wing has no response to Bolsonaro’s popularity surge in poor areas

Bolsonaro is gaining popularity in Brazil's Northeast — seen as the last bastion of support for the center-left Workers' Party, which is struggling to fight back

lula speaks to supporters
Former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva during event with supporters, in January 2020. Photo: Paulo Pinto/FP

Though his administration was plagued with multiple corruption scandals, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva remains one of Brazil’s most popular politicians. His detractors claimed his support was a byproduct of wealth transfer policies, which they dismiss as ‘cash-for-votes’ schemes. Lula’s followers, on the other hand, claim this evaluation is classist and argue his popularity is down to an ensemble of progressive policies, particularly in Brazil’s poor Northeast — the only region of the country where Jair Bolsonaro lost in the 2018 election.

Now, however, Mr. Bolsonaro’s popularity is on the rise in the Northeast, according to several opinion polls,...

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