Monday, January 30, 2023

Before the rise of Lula, the division in Brazil ended

SAO PAULO ( Associated Press) – Drums and drums will play at the swearing-in ceremony of new President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Jan. 1. Then another song will be heard in the streets, whose lyrics are against the outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro.

“It’s time for Jair, it’s time for Jair to go…time to go!” The lyrics say “Pack your bags, hit the road and get out!”

When Lula won the election on 30 October, tens of thousands of people sang the song all night, taking it to the top of Spotify in Brazil and showing that many Brazilians are in no mood for reconciliation.

The wounds will be difficult to heal in a divided Brazilian society. Lula has so far appointed leftists and members of his Workers’ Party as ministers, upsetting those who trusted the 77-year-old leader to govern with moderates, and those who want to be Bolsonaro’s fourth-most powerful candidate. The greats rallied behind Lula after testing the limits of democracy. world.

“Governing Brazil means making deals with farmers, evangelists, former allies of Bolsonaro. “It will be frustrating for half of Lula’s allies, but they face it,” said Carlos Melo, political science professor at Insper University in Sao Paulo.

Of course, Bolsonaro’s allies are not the picture of generosity and good spirits either. Many rejected the election results and picketed in front of military barracks demanding the cancellation of Lula’s inauguration.

The October election was the closest in more than three decades, with the two archrivals pitted against each other. In his victory speech, Lula declared that “there are no two Brazils” as tens of thousands of supporters gathered outside his hotel in Sao Paulo to celebrate Bolsonaro’s victory and defeat.

A hopeful sign emerged a few days later, when leftists and moderates once again donned national colors to support their football team at the World Cup. The green and yellow shirts have been used as anti-leftist symbols and spread in marches against Lula and in favor of Bolsonaro.

Lula and his allies also donned the colors in an attempt to reclaim it. Lula published photos on social networks and said that green and yellow are the colors of “the 213 million people who love this country.”

Elias Gaspar, a shirt seller, said the green-yellow shirts sold out quickly when the football team was playing in the World Cup.

“Before the World Cup I sold, on average, about six out of 10 blue and four yellow,” Gaspar, 43, said on December 4. “Now they are almost all yellow.”

The World Cup united the country for a brief moment, but it was fleeting. Brazil were eliminated earlier than expected on penalties in the quarter-finals with Croatia, and many Brazilians put their jerseys in drawers. Only Bolsonaro’s supporters are still dressed in national colours.

Lula has largely avoided escalating tensions by refraining from publicly attacking Bolsonaro and his supporters, focusing instead on his speeches to address the poor when he returns to the presidency. Wanting to help Brazilians, a position he held from 2003 and 2010.

However, sometimes polarizing comments slip through. On 22 December – when he announced the new ministers – he announced that Bolsonaro was still alive and that there were many angry people who refused to accept Bolsonaro’s defeat, and therefore, he would have to lose in the streets.

For defense minister, Lula chose the conservative José Músico Monteiro, following four years of Bolsonaro’s efforts to ensure the loyalty of the armed forces.

Lula’s other appointments are designed to appease his base and the party, such as Annele Franco, sister of slain Rio de Janeiro city councilor Mariel Franco, appointed minister of racial equality. He also named his longtime ally Aloisio Mercadante to head the country’s development bank, exactly the kind of job business leaders hoped would keep out of the Workers’ Party’s hands.

Gleissy Hoffmann, chair of Lula’s Workers’ Party, said that forming a cabinet would be a challenge, even if Lula selected only progressives. To further complicate the decisions, some ministers are likely to become 2026 presidential candidates, as Lula has indicated he will not seek re-election.

“We have differences within the Workers’ Party. Now imagine what would happen if we brought in a dozen other parties,” Hoffman explained via his social media accounts on December 16. “It’s a puzzle, it takes time.”

This may help explain why the number of ministries will nearly double to 37.

Centrist support from former environment minister Marina Silva and third-place finisher in the first round of the presidential race Simon Tebet drew votes from Brazil’s moderates, a demographic that has distrusted Lula since the widespread Lava Jato corruption investigation . In jail in 2018. With his support, he defeated Bolsonaro by less than two percentage points. Many expected him to be announced as a minister quickly, but talks have been delayed.

Thomas Truman, a political consultant, said the delay reflected the fact that the president-elect played a central role in the negotiations for the posts.

Truman said, “The people who helped him, like Marina and Simone, would have been younger if they had been nominated so soon after they won.” “Lula’s luck is that moderates will see his administration as left-wing Democrats see (US President Joe) Biden: they may not like what they see, but it’s better than the alternative.”

Biden’s effort to close the political gap may offer an instructive, if challenging, model, said Brian Ott, a communication science professor at Missouri State University who researches the stratifying effect of social media on American political dialogue.

Early in his presidency, Biden did not shy away from the fact that he was governing a polarized country and played on his goodwill as if returning to an era when Democrats and Republicans sat in the Senate before noticing the dining room. could fight. ,

“The problem facing Biden and politicians in 51% countries like Brazil is that there can no longer be a smart strategy for delivering a big message without alienating your base,” Ott said. “We are now in an era where politics is so intensely and deeply divided culturally that people are not aware of the different points of view.”

On 22 December, Lula appointed 16 ministers, bringing his total to 21. Neither Tebbet nor Silva are among them.

“Forming a government is harder than winning an election,” he argued, recommending appointing staff from diverse political backgrounds. “We are trying to form a government that, as far as possible, represents the political forces participating in our campaign.”

He said that those who helped and who have not yet been named will be held to account, adding that they are indebted to them for having “the courage to stick out their necks to face fascism”.

Still, many new Lula voters are already willing to jump ship. One is Theresa Bittencourt, 65, who spoke at a military club in Rio and said the early signs worry her.

“I got a lot of criticism from my friends in the club because I voted for Lula. They all chose Bolsonaro. I told them that the economy would be better managed”, explained Bittencourt, sipping his caipirinha. “If I only see Workers’ Party members in government, bye.”


Associated Press writer Aamer Madhani in Washington, D.C. contributed to this report

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