Lula received 57.25 million votes (48.43% of the total number of valid votes), coming close to a victory in the first round. But Bolsonaro grew dangerously in the final stretch. With 51.07 million votes (43.20% of the total), he performed considerably better than the polls predicted. With that, there will be a tough battle in the second round. The dispute is open: nothing is already won nor lost. The political struggle of the next four weeks will decide the outcome.
Although Lula obtained a considerable advantage in votes, it does not put the former president automatically as the favorite in the second round. That’s because Bolsonaro had a political victory on Sunday. First of all, because he achieved a superior result than what was expected, reducing the distance to Lula. Secondly because, in addition to winning in the Southeast (the most densely populated region in the country), in the South and Center West, Bolsonaro’s direct allies were elected or went to the second round as favorites in the states of these regions. This allowed bolsonarism to conduct the current political offensive, which needs to be reversed.
If Lula, on the one hand, demonstrated enormous popular strength, propelled by the Northeasterners, the poorest workers and the youth; Bolsonaro, on the other hand, showed that he still preserves a giant, cohesive and mobilized social base, which is a majority in the Center-South of the country.
The first round results thus showed a fractured country, deeply divided politically and socially. In this extreme political polarization, the alternatives of the so-called “third way” dehydrated almost completely in the final stretch. Lula and Bolsonaro concentrated 94% of valid votes in the first round, a record.
The marked degree of polarization in this dispute here in Brazil is in line with several other elections that have recently taken place in other parts of the world in which there have been quite fierce disputes between the far right and the left (or center-left) alternatives. In Chile, Colombia and Peru, for instance, the left won by a small margin in the second round.
There is evidence to suggest that there was a significant migration of “useful anti-PT votes” (especially in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Rio Grande do Sul) from Ciro and Tebet to Bolsonaro, which could have boosted Bolsonaro’s vote in the final days. In addition, there are indications that Bolsonaro had a more electorally engaged support base in the first round, being less affected by the high abstention rate, which was 20.95%, that is, 32.7 million people did not vote in the first round last Sunday.
With Sunday’s result, intense concern gripped the people on the left. There is reason for this feeling. After all, it is not impossible that Bolsonaro manages to turn the tables, winning in the second round, which would have terrible consequences for the Brazilian people and the whole of the left and social movements. The growth of bolsonarism in the final stretch, including electing a significant bench of senators and deputies from the far right, explains and justifies this apprehension.
But if the battle is not won in advance, neither it is lost. Lula won the first round by a margin of 6.2 million votes, which is considerable. In addition to the victory in the North and the Northeast of the country, Lula won in Minas Gerais and in the metropolitan regions of São Paulo and Porto Alegre. In relation to the first round of 2018, Bolsonaro lost electoral space in the Center-South of the country, even if preserving a majority in the region. PT and PSOL increased their benches of federal and state deputies. Boulos, from PSOL, was the most voted federal deputy in São Paulo. PT elected three governors in the first round (Ceará, Rio Grande do Norte and Piauí) and is in four more disputes in the second round (São Paulo, Bahia, Sergipe and Santa Catarina).
There is real reason for concern about the danger of a Bolsonaro turnaround. But there is no reason for despair, because nothing is lost. Now it’s time to organize all the anti-Bolsonaro sectors for the war of the second round. It is a time of strength, courage and unity. Taking to the streets, presenting proposals to improve the lives of the people and denouncing all of Bolsonaro’s perversities, it is possible to win. Let’s redden the country, without fear. Let’s defeat fascism! Let’s fight!
Three lines of action to win
First, maximum mobilization is needed on the streets and in places of work, study and housing, as well as on social media. The campaign needs to gain broad public visibility with its materials. It is necessary to create an atmosphere that encourages and cheers up sectors of the masses, that gives strength and hope to the people. Making Lula’s campaign more vibrant and present on the streets will be key to reverse the bolsonarist offensive. It is necessary to create a wave that encourages the use of stickers, flags, red clothes, a wave that produces a political counter-offensive.
The elected parliamentarians (and also those who were not elected), social movements, unions, political parties, regional groups, the black movement, feminists, LGBTQI, environmentalists, independent leftist activists, anarchists and autonomists, anyway, all those who know the danger that a possible Bolsonaro victory represents have to join the campaign immediately, with maximum strength and in an articulated way, whenever possible.
In this sense, the collective organization of the campaign in the streets and medias is important, in order to maximize the reach of political agitation in favor of Lula. It is necessary to organize and publicize street flyers, tables on street corners, distribution of stickers, house-to-house visits in the neighborhoods, conversations at the doors of factories and places of work and study, etc. The national front “Bolsonaro Out!” can help in the articulation of unified campaign actions.
We must campaign to make those who voted for Lula to vote again. For those who voted for Ciro and Tebet (and the other candidates), to vote 13 [PT electoral number] this time. For those who did not vote in the first round, to vote for Lula this time. And even to change the vote of those who opted for Bolsonaro last Sunday. Each vote matters.
Secondly, it is necessary to present concrete proposals to improve the lives of the working and oppressed people, as well as the small landowners and the middle class. In other words, on the one hand, defending measures such as raising the minimum wage above inflation, considerable increase to “Bolsa Família”, relieving the debts of working families, creating millions of jobs with public works, expanding racial quotas, combating violence against women, among other proposals. On the other hand, a cheap credit plan for small businesses in cities as well as in rural areas, the renegotiation of their debts under favorable conditions by public banks, cheapening fuel and health plans.
Third, it is essential to heavily denounce every tragedy produced and represented by Bolsonaro. To hit even harder on what he did during the pandemic, on the corruption cases involving his family and government. In the worsening of living conditions during his rule. In the opportunistic and false use of religion to win votes. In his project to implant a dictatorship in the country. In each perversity Bolsonaro has done and said in the past; in his hatred of women, blacks, Northeasterners, LGBTQIs and poor people. We must choose the most accurate argument against Bolsonaro to each and every one that we are going to talk to in this election, in this battle for the votes.
We have less than four weeks to defeat fascism in these elections. These are certainly the most important and dangerous weeks of our generation. Our duty is to fight for victory, till the end. It will not be easy, nor is there any certainty of triumph. But it is possible to win. In the struggle that we have ahead in each neighborhood, in each street, in each conversation, in each message, lies the hope of conquering a new day, without Bolsonaro in power. Let’s go with Lula 13, till the victory!