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OPINION AND ANALYSIS | 03-10-2022 10:00

Analysts react: Bolsonaro has momentum ahead of Brazil run-off

Brazil is heading to a run-off election between President Jair Bolsonaro and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on October 30 – political experts and economists react to the results of Sunday's first-round vote.

Brazil is heading to a run-off election between President Jair Bolsonaro and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on October 30 after a stronger-than-expected performance by the incumbent prevented his leftist challenger from getting the 50 percent needed to win the vote outright.

Here are some comments by political experts and economists about the results on Sunday’s vote: 

  • Roberto Secemski, economist at Barclays PLC:
    • Tighter-than-expected gap between the two candidates could result in some moderation in political rhetoric as they compete to win over undecided voters, which could imply populist promises
    • New proposals that would mean additional fiscal spending without details on funding sources would be negatively received by investors
    • Lula could feel pressured to outline names for his potential new administration
    • High rejection rates could still represent a ceiling for Bolsonaro, even if comes up with new campaign promises
  • Cassiana Fernandez, Brazil chief economist for JPMorgan Chase & Corp.:
    • Gap between two main contenders was substantially smaller than the 10 percentage-points that polls on average suggested, perhaps suggesting that the effect of “shy voters” for Bolsonaro is underestimated by polling agencies
    • It is too close to call the result but odds still look slightly in favor of Lula at this point
    • In Congress, the performance of the Bolsonaro’s party PL and the right-wing União Brasil suggest the strength of more conservative views, leading to a change in the equilibrium of the upper house
    • This may lead to more moderation on the economic agenda from an eventual Lula government, it may also lead to more stalemates and gridlocks if the government fails to properly negotiate its priorities with leaders
  • Thomas Traumann, a Rio de Janeiro-based political consultant and columnist:
    • This is a surprise. People underestimated Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro has momentum not only because he won important states like São Paulo and Rio, but also because of excellent results in Congress
    • Lula is closer to victory. But the fact is Bolsonaro had many million votes more than polls expected and an excellent performance in the Senate
    • Though Lula is still the favourite, he will probably need to make some compromises in the next weeks to ensure his victory
    • If Bolsonaro backed-candidates in senate can organise themselves, there’s “no doubt” they can complicate Lula’s eventual mandate
  • Deysi Cioccari, a political science professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo
    • There is a strong Bolsonarist vote hidden, especially in the São Paulo countryside, but across the country in the smallest cities off the radar of polls
    • This explains the pro-Bolsonaro result despite Lula winning in the first round
  • James Green, Brown University professor of Latin American history
    • There are several issues: First, Lula has never won in the first round, so one more time he is going to have to dispute the second round. Secondly, he got the 48 percent that polls analysed. At the end it was completely within the margin of error
    • Bolsonaro was stronger than we imagined and it wasn’t just a survey error; it’s a lack of understanding that there is within the society an ashamed vote but for the right instead of the left. They don’t talk to pollsters, they don’t reveal what they feel but they have a great identification with Bolsonaro
    • Brazil lives a myth of cordiality, joy, sympathy and it isn’t. It’s a country that has a lot of conservatives, always has, and they are growing and they don’t like those social, cultural changes that had been happening in the country. So they are supporting Bolsonaro because he represents a return to the past
    • Brazil’s polarisation is “just like the US. The countries are increasingly alike in their political composition.”
  • Alberto Ramos, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. economist
    • Pro-Bolsonaro and centre-right candidates pulled a few high-profile surprises and overall performed significantly better than expected in gubernatorial and senate races
    • We are bound for a competitive and likely also very polarised presidential election run-off. We expect the coming polls to show a Lula-Bolsonaro run-off spread below the eight to 10 points seen prior to the first-round
    • Against this backdrop, campaign focus/efficiency, connection with voters, appeal to the 20.9 percent of voters that abstained in the first round, and the ground game on election day will matter, and will likely determine the outcome of the presidential election
  • Carlos Melo, a political scientist at the Insper University in São Paulo
    • All that is certain is that the far-right is extremely strong. And Jair Bolsonaro goes into the second round in a position of strength
  • Oliver Stuenkel, International Relations Professor at FGV University, in Twitter comments:
    • Lula is still the favourite to win the run-off. But just like Trump, Bolsonaro has shown that his support makes a big differences for candidates for Senate, Governor and Congress
    • That will make it harder for centre-right politicians to challenge Bolsonaro’s hegemony over Brazil’s right








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by Andrew Rosati & Isadora Calumby, Bloomberg


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