The focus for observing Brazilian politics begins to move towards the center. In the process to elect, in October 2022, the next president, there is only one certainty: Lula da Silva, the leader of the PT, will be one of the two candidates for a second round that today seems inevitable. On the other hand, a second piece of data from those elections is blurring day by day: Will Jair Bolsonaro get to the ballot? Sympathy for the president of Brazil is in free fall. The latest Exame poll shows that 54% of those consulted believe that their administration is bad or terrible. Only 21% evaluate it as good or excellent. 23% consider it regular.
The weakening of the Bolsonaro option modifies the game in two ways. On the one hand, it appeases the animosity towards him, on which Lula’s recovery has been sustained. On the other, it opens space for a third option, which will fill the vacancy left by the ruling party and channel the rejection towards the PT. This movement is beginning to become a major key to the power dispute.
The most relevant novelty in recent hours has been, in this sense, the launch of Eduardo Leite’s candidacy. He is the governor of Rio Grande do Sul and leader of the PSDB, the party of former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Leite is 36 years old, he resigned to be reelected in his position, and he proposes himself as the candidate who recovers for the PSDB his modern and, to some extent, intellectualized character. During an interview with the TV Globo Leite declared himself gay, which brought a novelty: it is the first time that a homosexual runs for the presidency. The revelation stirred Brazil, where there are already those who point to him as the vernacular Pete Buttigieg. And it produced a very predictable reaction in the reactionary Bolsonaro: “Nobody has anything against the private life of anybody. Now, wanting to impose his habit, his behavior for others, no! ”, He muttered. He is the same head of state who a decade ago had confessed that “I would rather have a son die in an accident than appear with a mustache.”
Leite will participate in his party’s primaries in November. His candidacy challenges the senator for Ceará, Tasso Jereisatti; the mayor of Manaus, Arthur Virgilio; but, above all, to the governor of São Paulo, João Doria. A great contradictor of Bolsonaro, considered a good administrator, with excellent management of the pandemic, especially due to the early contracting of vaccines, Doria has a very hard time conquering the party leadership.
Whoever emerges from this contest will have to outnumber Bolsonaro in votes to reach the second round. Once in that instance, he will be asked for plasticity to seduce those who today sympathize with the President.
While the PSDB resolves its candidacy, in the different states of Brazil alliances are woven that will be decisive for the national competition. In this task, we must not lose sight of the skilled Gilberto Kassab. He is the head of the Social Democratic Party and has among his antecedents having been mayor of São Paulo and minister in the governments of Dilma Rousseff and Michel Temer.
Kassab ran for Bolsonaro’s succession to Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco, a leader of the Minas Gerais Democrats party. In that state it also has an alliance with the mayor of Belo Horizonte, Aleixandre Kalil. The little sympathy that the São Paulo member Doria arouses in his own strength is about to alienate former governor Geraldo Alckmin from the PSDB, who would join the Kassab network. In Rio de Janeiro, Mayor Eduardo Paes has already done it.
This framework is less and less despicable. Above all, if one takes into account that in the municipal elections of last year the Social Democratic Party went from 538 to 634 mayors, in addition to having 35 federal deputies, which constitutes a powerful force in a Congress marked by fragmentation.
The fate of an actor who breaks the polarization between Lula and Bolsonaro depends a lot on the luck of the president. His power is being threatened by two serious problems. One has to do with suspicions of corruption in the procurement of vaccines. In Congress there is an investigative commission that was agitated in recent weeks when Luis Miranda, the head of Imports of the Ministry of Health, denounced having received irregular pressure to buy the Covaxín vaccine, made by the Bharat Biotech laboratory in India. The official’s brother, Luis Miranda, who is a deputy, revealed to the same commission that informed Bolsonaro about these maneuvers and that the president limited himself to saying “it is an arrangement by Roberto Barros,” referring to the former Minister of Health of Temer, that he now represents the Government in the Chamber of Deputies. Based on these data, a new impeachment petition was filed against the President. More than 100 already accumulate.
The second delicate threat that Bolsonaro faces has to do with nature: Brazil is suffering from a drought that is paralyzing the hydroelectric generation system, which is the country’s main source of energy. Since 1931 there has not been such a shortage of water. If the problem continues, the government will have to put in place rationing measures that it is trying to avoid at all costs.
It is the ghost of the last days of Cardoso, forced to decree a generalized blackout for at least 5 hours a day in mid-2001, which pulverized his popularity. If this scenario were to repeat itself, impeachment requests may begin to flourish in Congress. Then it will be clearer how what happens today in the center of the board will be decisive for the future of Brazil.
Subscribe here to the newsletter from EL PAÍS América and receive all the informative keys of the current situation of the region