Brazil's president-elect, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, is sworn in on January 1 for his third term. Despite the pleasant memories that his followers still have, the context is much more complicated.
Photo: Antonio Cruz/ABr
LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández
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Leer en español: Tercer mandato de Lula da Silva será más desafiante que el primero
“As of January 1, 2023, I will govern 215 million Brazilian men and women, and not only for those who voted for me. There are no 2 Brazils”, were the words of Lula da Silva as soon as he recognized his victory. The leader of the Brazilian left faces a much more complicated outlook than he met in 2003 when he first came to power.
You can also read: Why do the Bolsonaristas refuse to accept the victory of Lula da Silva in Brazil?
Not only because the Brazil that he receives today is entirely different from the one he left, to this must be added the particularities with which he arrives, but also the global context. The economic crisis, inflation, the war in Ukraine, a post-pandemic economy, etc.
A Divided Country
Lula said it well when acknowledging his victory: “No one is interested in living in a divided country in a permanent state of war. That country needs peace and unity." Precisely, today he comes to the presidency of Brazil with a highly divided electorate. So much so that his election was by less than 2 percentage points. The PT leader obtained 50.9% of the votes, while the outgoing president, Jair Bolsonaro, reached 49.1%. A slight difference that leaves Lula in a difficult position.
In the first votes that Lula won (in 2002), the PT candidate won in the second round with 61.27% of the votes against 38.72%, then he was left with 60.83% in his re-election against 39.17% of his opponent. Some results that at the time. More than a 20% difference, which today would seem unthinkable, due to polarization.
Da Silva will have to unite his electorate, since half the country not only voted against him, many have a completely negative image of the ex-unionist. This is reflected in the confirmation of Congress. The main political force in both houses of the legislature is Bolsonaro's Liberal Party. The far-right movement won 99 of the 513 votes in the Chamber of Deputies, 190, counting the allied parties. In the Senate, Bolsonarismo took 13 of the 81 positions, and the united right has 53% of the positions.
This leaves Lula in a delicate situation in legislative matters. He must govern through consensus and alliances with groups far from his ideals. He will need great persuasion if he does not want his government to collapse due to the opposition in the legislature.
Lula A Worn Image
First, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva returns to power 13 years after handing over the mandate to his ally Dilma Rousseff. But, in all this time, various facts and events allow da Silva's victory to have come more from anti-Bolsonarist votes than in favor of Lula. A sample of this is the Congress with an opposition majority.
It is that the corruption scandals that persecuted the former president penetrated the Brazilians. Let's remember that Lula was imprisoned, but a decision by the high courts granted him freedom on a technicality. Today, the cases for which he was accused have expired and will always remain in the imagination of millions of Brazilians the distrust of Lula, who was never acquitted in court.
A Hopeful Economic Moment, But Worse Than In 2003
Perhaps the most difficult scenario for Lula is the economic field. Since, even though experts foresee a trade surplus in 2023, exports and imports may fall. This, together with the inflationary phenomena and an economy that is still recent from the pandemic, envision a better year than 2022, but not entirely a good one.
However, the surplus in the trade balance that is expected could exceed that registered in 2020, this being the record in Brazilian history.
Lula is remembered for lifting millions of Brazilian families out of poverty and it is what gives him his important political capital to this day. But Lula governed during the boom periods for raw materials. In the early years of the 2000s, the price of products exported by South America gave a financial boom. After the oil crisis, the times in the region are more complicated and this is the reality that Lula will have to face.