Brazil’s 2018 presidential campaign is heating up

BRASILIA – Brazil’s elections are approaching fast. The polls will open on October 7 for the first round while the second round will take place on October 28. On August 15, the list with the official candidates will be published – which is the official launch of the race.

The political scenario in Brazil is complex. One of the most promising candidates, former president and ex-leader of the Workers’ Party (PT) Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, is in prison. But this opens space for other contenders to rise to the political top of the state.

Polling institute Ibope found that Lula remains the favorite even though he is in jail. The survey had him far ahead (33%) of his nearest rival, ultra-right dictatorship apologist Jair Bolsonaro (15%). The ecologist Marina Silva would receive 7% while the laboratory technician Ciro Gomez and social-democrat Geraldo Alckmin get 4%.

Law mandates that no candidate could run whose sentence has been upheld in a second instance. Therefore, if the Workers’ Party officially presents Lula as candidate, he will likely be excluded from the process. However, the respective judge hasn’t decided yet.

According to the BBC, Jair Bolsonaro rides on controversy generated by his racism and homophobic comments. But a substantial minority sees him as being able to handle the country’s horrific levels of crime and related insecurity. The 63-year-old declared his candidacy last Sunday during a gathering in Rio de Janeiro, where he promised to “rescue the country.” He also said he would promote private gun ownership to deal with the violence the country suffers from.

Bolsonaro supports capital punishment and torture, and ferociously opposes abortion. In 1993, Bolsonaro defended the dictatorship publicly in the deputies chamber. In 2017, he promised, if elected, he would do away with indigenous territories and the “quilombolas” (mainly Afro-descendant settlements), for which he was denounced at the public prosecutor. He also referred to Afro-descendants as “people who wouldn’t even be worth to procreate.”

Marina Silva, the ecologist, reacting to Bolsonaro’s gun proposal said “I don’t think that is the solution for a country in which more than 60,000 people are murdered every year. I don’t want a gun as the symbol of my country.”

Silva have been presidential candidate twice (2010 and 2014). She created a political party called Sustainability Network in 2013, which aims to protect the environment and foster sustainable development.

Ciro Gomez is a politician and economist. He was member of the Partido del Movimiento Democrático Brasileño and the Partido de la Social Democracia Brasileña. He was federal lawmaker and mayor of the city La Fortaleza, finance minister and presidential candidate in 1998 and 2002. Former São Paolo mayor and governor Geraldo Alckmin and Ciro Gomez are unlikely to last long in the race, given their low poll numbers.

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