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  • Writer's pictureBen Wiese

Can Lula unite the country? An analysis of the division after the Brazilian elections

On the 30th. of October 2022, the leftist candidate and former president of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, won the second round of the Brazilian election and therefore is the new president of Brazil. However, his victory was a very close one. Lula won the Brazilian elections with only a slim majority of 50,90% and now faces a very strong opposition. The former president Bolsonaro followed a very different agenda of nationalist and economy focused policies while Lula tried to focus more on the issues of fighting inequality and ending the economic exploitation of the Amazon rainforest. These differences in terms of content and the tightness of his victory are going to challenge the pursuit of Lula to unite the country. Firstly, the different problems that Lula will have to face are presented and secondly, there will be an analysis of the indicators that might influence the stability of the new government.

Seeing all the social and political clashes throughout Brazil, Lula’s goal of uniting Brazil requires a lot of work to reach. The first challenge for Lula is the peaceful transfer of power to him from the former president Bolsonaro. Officially, Bolsonaro is supposed to hand over the presidential power on the first of January 2023. However, he chose to stay silent the first days after the election and therefore left the country nescience of a peaceful transfer of power. His silence was crucial because beforehand Bolsonaro and lots of his supporters stated to not accept the election if there were any doubts about its legitimacy.

By questioning the legitimacy of the election, Bolsonaro lays the ground for resistance against the democratic institutions of the country. Already during the elections campaigns, Bolsonaro claimed that the election might get stolen from him and one of his sons that politically support him stated after the elections that Bolsonaro is the victim of the largest electoral fraud ever seen. It is crucial for a democracy to control its most important mechanisms but it becomes problematic when, like in the case of the Brazilian elections, these claims are made without any substantial evidence. This is clearly evident in the storm on the U.S. capitol in January 2021, that was an effect of all the spurious claims by former president Trump and his supporters that the election wasn’t legitimate. The storm on the capitol showed the world how dangerous these claims can be for the liberal democracy and its institutions.

Another difficulty for Lula might be the pacification of the settlers that benefited from the economic exploitation of the Amazon rainforest. Bolsonaro’s policies regarding the Amazon made some businessmen very rich and powerful and they are very likely to oppose any attempts of Lula to restrict the deforestation of the Amazon. Lula will need a very good translation of his policies towards Bolsonaros’ supporters to justify the end of the short-lived boom of the Brazilian economy due to the deforestation.

Sallas, a former minister of Brazil, stressed the importance of pacifying the divided country. Taking into account all these challenges for Lula, this task will not be an easy one. To properly assess the situation and make statements about potential outcomes it is necessary to look at the indicators that might influence the stability of Lula’s governance.

The threat of civil disobedience or other forms of protest from supporters are a potential danger for the new government. When Bolsonaro and other important figures in the opposition are continuing to question the outcome, their supporters will be motivated to take action and revolt against the new government. There are voices from the Bolsonaro camp that stated that there will be protests in case of evidence for a manipulation of the election. Furthermore, they stated that they would wear weapons for self-defence purposes. These are signs of a very serious threat for democracy, especially when taking into account that “evidence” for a manipulation was defined very oddly during the U.S. election and the following storm on the capitol.

Furthermore, Lula managed already before the election to get the support of leaders from democratic all over the political spectrum. Therefore, he already showed that he is able to unite different opinions to reach a certain aim. However, there are also other signs that Lula might be able to unite the country. Firstly, Bolsonaro finally stated that he will peacefully hand over the power in the beginning of the new year after he kept silent for a few days. Although, he still didn’t accept the official results and keeps a door open for potential a backlash.

Concluding from all these indicators, it became clear that Lula faces a divided and estranged country that is in need of a peaceful conflation to avoid a potential threat to Brazilian democracy. It is obvious that Bolsonaro and his supporters are not willing to give away their power easily and it will stay unclear for now if Lula can manage to overcome these differences and lead Brazil united through the next years.

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