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Lula and the Brazilian left dream of a victory in the first round

The Brazilian left does not want to wait for the discount. The objective is to close the party on Sunday, October 2, in the first round of the presidential elections, and avoid having to hold the tiebreaker a month later. The latest polls indicate that this is possible, just barely. One week before the vote, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva landed this Saturday in a neighborhood on the outskirts of São Paulo, the country’s great hotbed of votes, to attack two of his opponents, the abstentionist and President Jair Bolsonaro, who is behind in the polls. “All he wants is for the people not to go out and vote”, he launched during a rally with a festive atmosphere. “He has a headache called Lula.”

“Mom, it’s coming soon!” Sueli Batista’s son is, like the whole family, a Lulista. He wears red sneakers and red pants, the color of the Workers’ Party (PT), although the shirt is white. “I told him that he was already too red,” explains Batista. Perhaps to get even, the boy has brought something to Lula. A squared sheet, folded in half, with a drawing of the former president on one side and the starry flag of the PT. Let’s see if she can give it to him. Hundreds of people have come to this park in Grajau, a district of low houses and unpainted brick 90 minutes by car from downtown São Paulo, to witness the return of the idol. Batista has no doubts about a victory in the first round: “he is going to win”. Spot.

The polls have fueled that hope on the left. According to the latest survey by the Datafolha Institute, the former president would receive 47% of the votes in the first round, but if blank and invalid votes are excluded, he would reach 50%, enough to avoid having to duel against Bolsonaro again and save some money. unexpected scare during the month that would remain until the second round. It would be the first time that a president achieved victory in the first round since Fernando Henrique Cardoso in 1998.

To repeat the feat, Lula must defeat what he considers his greatest enemy at this point in the race. And that is not Bolsonaro, who is 14 points behind in the polls, but the abstention. Lula leads by more than 30 points among the poorest Brazilians, those who earn less than $500 a month. They make up the largest block of the electorate, but it is also the group that will vote the least. In recent days, his campaign has reinforced the messages against abstention. Mobilizing peripheral Sao Paulo, the one that works but doesn’t sleep in the downtown skyscraper area, is crucial.

Marcio Franca, Geraldo Alckmin, Lula da Silva and Fernando Haddad, during a rally in Sao Paulo.CAIO GUATELLI (AFP)

“It’s here!” someone announces. “Ole, ole, ole, ole, ola, Lulaaa!” the audience chants. “Sexy!” a curly-haired student yells. Lula appears on stage with a red shirt with the sleeves rolled up and takes her left hand to his heart, the one that is missing the finger that she lost in her days as a metal worker. She doesn’t need paper for the speech. She moves around the stage like a rock star and each of her phrases is perfectly in tune for an audience she knows well – he grew up in a neighborhood not far from Grajau. “People want to be treated like citizens. People have to eat and the State has to subsidize so that they can eat”, he says.

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Nostalgia for the Lula years runs strong among those present. Almost all of them benefited from one of the numerous social programs that she launched during her government (2003-2010) and that lifted millions of Brazilians out of poverty. Claudinelha Hipolito, 40, holds a flag with the candidate’s face on it and has several stickers attached to her sweatshirt. She studied technology thanks to a scholarship for poor students. “With Lula, people ate better, dressed better. I got a job shortly after I was first elected.” Although unemployment has fallen in recent months, poor areas like Grajau continue to feel the blow of the crisis stemming from the pandemic. Hipolito has been unemployed for a year.

Following the promise of a return to the good old days, Lula insists on what seems to be his central message: people have to go out and vote in order to win on the first Sunday in October. “I learned from the polls that the people of Grajau were upset with the PT and that many people in the last election did not go to vote,” he scolds, recalling the resounding defeat of his party in the 2018 elections. “And what is the problem of not voting? That one loses the moral authority to protest. You cannot have 20% abstention and 10% invalid vote. It is necessary that in the next few days they convince each person (in their environment) to go out and vote.”

Ricardo Vidal, a 22-year-old audiovisual student, feels optimistic. Even his father seems that he will vote for Lula, after voting for Bolsonaro four years ago. Covid-19 killed several of his relatives and he was left without a job. He learned his lesson, according to Vidal. “Lula doesn’t have to explain what she’s going to do, she just has to show what she’s already done,” he says. For the student, it is as easy as that. A catchy campaign song begins to play, and Vidal hugs his group of friends as if he were at a concert: “Lula la, our star shines, Lula la”.

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Source: EL PAIS

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