Win or Lose, Brazil’s Left Faces an Inflection Point

Win or Lose, Brazil’s Left Faces an Inflection Point
Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks during a press conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Oct. 23, 2022 (AP photo by Andre Penner).

The results of the first round of Brazil’s general election on Oct. 2 were a success for far-right President Jair Bolsonaro and a knockout blow for the moderate right. That made it an unpleasant shock for the left, even if former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of the Workers’ Party, or PT, finished first and remains the frontrunner for the second-round runoff against Bolsonaro on Oct. 30.

“It’s very frustrating,” Antonio Claret Diniz, a PT supporter who turned out on election night to watch the vote count on a square in downtown Rio de Janeiro, told WPR. Like the rest of the crowd gathered there, the 63-year-old actor had been hoping for an outright win for Lula, who according to opinion polls enjoyed a double-digit lead over his far-right rival in the runup to the voting.

In the end, Lula got 48 percent of the valid votes, compared to 43 percent for Bolsonaro, suggesting that the upcoming runoff will be tight. Meanwhile, key figures of Bolsonaro’s movement were elected to Congress and did well in gubernatorial races, putting paid to any hopes that Bolsonaro and his fiery brand of authoritarian politics were just a blip in Brazil’s politics.

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