Bolsonaro courts Brazilian women voters by launching his candidacy for re-election | International
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God, the first lady of Brazil and the alliance with lifelong politics have shared with President Jair Bolsonaro, 67, the leading role in the rally in which he launched his campaign this Sunday to win a second term in the elections October. “A rich country is worth nothing if it elects a bandit, a drunkard, an ex-prisoner as president. It is not an attack, it is a finding”, the far-rightist has proclaimed before thousands of faithful Bolsonaristas who have not managed to completely fill the stands of a sports center in Rio de Janeiro. The rally has been full of winks to the voters. He knows that without reducing the 60% of rejection that he provokes among women, it is almost impossible to win. Bolsonaro has praised the achievements of his government and his alliance with the old political parties that, with his parliamentary support, have allowed him to remain in office despite the disastrous management of the pandemic.
The followers of the retired soldier do not believe the polls that for months have placed former president Lula da Silva, 76, comfortably in the lead, with a 19-point lead.
Rio is key for the Bolsonaro clan. In this city the patriarch cemented his political career defending the corporate interests of policemen and soldiers. Before starting the rally in a venue near the Maracanã stadium, civil construction technician Edson Blanco, 67, said: “This is a choice between good and evil” after referring to Sri Lanka and the evils that organic farming can cause. With an evangelical prayer and thousands of people proud of his faith, the meeting began. It was followed by the anthem, which was also played at the ceremony in which Lula began his electoral career as head of the Workers’ Party list several weeks ago.
The Brazilian president has said that every morning he prays so that “the Brazilian people do not experience the pain of communism. I ask for strength to resist and courage to decide.” He has also confirmed that in the electoral race he will accompany him as number two retired general Walter Braga Netto, who has been a minister. His current vice president, Hamilton Mourao, also left the barracks. Braga Netto would be the representative of “an army that does not accept corruption, does not accept fraud. That is, an Army that wants transparency”, in the only reference, and indirect, to the suspicions that Bolsonaro spreads about the voting system.
Thus, the ultra-conservative candidate ignores the recommendations to elect a woman, a technocratic minister, to soften his image among Brazilian women, the sector of the electorate in which he is most rejected. But aware that this is a weak flank, he has given his wife a starring role in the act.
Michelle Bolsonaro, 40, is the president’s third wife, the mother of his only daughter. A model evangelical. In addition, she is considered a great electoral asset, but she lavishes less than some Bolsonaro advisers would like. She is reluctant to fully enter the electoral campaign. “They say he doesn’t like women,” the first lady began. “But it is the one that passed the most laws to protect women: Seventy laws! When he carries water to the Northeast he is taking care of the mother, the housewife, the woman who carries the bucket of water on her head. That’s the president they say doesn’t like women. The difference is that he does.” He has later stressed that 90% of the hundreds of thousands of land titles delivered by his government have gone to women.
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And in a gesture to the most needy Brazilians, it has announced that the payment of 600 reais a month from Aid Brasil (previously called Bolsa Familia) will remain in force in 2023.
There have been several appeals to young left-wing voters, to whom he has warned that “the other candidate wants to control social networks.” He has also invited them to go to the border with Venezuela to see “those who arrive in Brazil fleeing communism.” Nor has the opportunity to criticize the turn to the left in Colombia and Chile passed by and to boast about his visit to his counterpart Vladimir Putin, with whom he met in Moscow on the eve of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The loudest boos have been, in any case, the Supreme Court, which has returned to attack viciously. The president has called on Brazilians to demonstrate on September 7, on the 200th anniversary of independence. “Let’s go to the streets for the last time.”
The Bolsonarist speech of 2022 includes practically the same ingredients as the one of 2018 but with important variations. The fight against corruption is no longer a capital issue. Bolsonaro has dismissed the scandals of his government as specific issues that he has dealt with, not as a supreme problem. Both the president’s speech and those of his followers maintain the exaltation of the country, of God, of the traditional family, the rejection of abortion, and the legalization of drugs. The danger of communism is also very present; Lula’s name is not even mentioned, it is “the other candidate” or the “nine fingers” in reference to the work accident in which she lost a little finger.
The nostalgia of the dictatorship has appeared from the hand of a follower who offered a book entitled 1964, the untold story, the year of the coup that the far-right president has praised so much throughout his three decades of political career. “There will be no coup nor will there be anything, it is just the Bolsonaro way of doing politics. He always defended the Constitution, ”he assured at the gates of the Eduardo Motta sports center, an engineer at a renewable energy company.
Conspicuously absent from the speech with which he has made his candidacy official, two issues to which in other circumstances he usually attaches enormous importance: firearms and the security of electronic ballot boxes.
President Bolsonaro has not made any explicit mention that Sunday of the electronic ballot boxes in which Brazil has voted since 1996, although for months he has questioned the reliability of the system, alleging, without proof, that they could be the object of fraud and that the electoral result can be easily manipulated. However, among the soundtrack of epic airs that accompanied the act, from time to time there was the characteristic tinkle that Brazilian ballot boxes make when the voter casts the vote, a sound familiar to any adult in this country of compulsory voting.
The fear that Bolsonaro will follow in the footsteps of Donald Trump and not recognize an eventual defeat has been brewing in Brazil for a long time. The high point of the president’s strategy to question the voting system occurred in September of last year, when he managed to bring thousands of people to the streets demanding that the printed vote be established. Congress voted and rejected the change. Since then, sowing doubts about the way to vote is almost an obligatory resource in his speeches.
Surveys show that in recent months the percentage of those who distrust the polls has dropped from 28% to 20%, but these are figures that were unthinkable years ago. But t-shirts claiming “Print Vote Now!” hung by the dozens at the gates of the sports center.
If four years ago Bolsonaro managed to be perceived as an anti-system candidate who was going to put an end to the old policy of exchanging favors, now he is a president who assumes that he has managed to politically survive the pandemic and the economic crisis thanks to the support of those political parties. those who pestered. When he mentioned Arthur Lira, president of Congress, and a great symbol of that bloc known as the center (the big center) there has been a lot of booing. But the president, well aware that he needs the support of that powerful bloc without ideology, has riveted: “If it weren’t for Lira we wouldn’t have come this far.”
The far-right no longer arouses the enthusiasm of four years ago despite the choirs of “myth, myth, myth” with which his most faithful have received the “captain of the people” to the rhythm of music sertanejathe country Brazilian. The T-shirts with his image, ubiquitous in street stalls in any Brazilian city at the beginning of his term, have disappeared. They are no longer a good business. The illusion is now in the ranks of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and the image that triumphs on T-shirts and tote bags is his, especially that of the eighties, when the leftist was a trade unionist who fought the dictatorship.