• Thuptim Appleton

Lula vs. Bolsonaro: A Look into the Past and the Present

Brazil’s presidential election has come to a close with Lula trumping Bolsonaro by a 2 million vote lead. One of the most intense elections in recent years, 118 million people voted for their favorite candidate - 14 million more voters than the 2018 election. In the last few weeks preceding the election, tensions were high and the two politicians were neck to neck up until the final day with Lula winning by a 50.9 to 49.1% ratio. Because of the election results, Bolsonaro’s supporters have started protesting all around the country. Before looking at the protests themselves, it is important to analyze both candidates and what they stand for.


Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, known formally as Lula, was president of Brazil from 2003 to 2010 and the leader of the Workers’ Cause Party, a left-wing political party that is in support of socialism and other somewhat marxist ideas. Under his presidency, Brazil’s economic growth rose from 1.9% to 5.2% and also grew in international trade. Despite being elected on a socialist platform, Lula was somewhat conservative when it came to his economic policies, keeping the International Monetary Fund from Cardoso’s presidency. Throughout his presidency, even though Lula promoted himself as opposed to it, he was accused of government corruption time and time again such as the Mensalão scandal, which accused him of buying seats for his party in the parliament. After leading the country for seven years, he was succeeded by Dilma Rousseff. In 2014, the Lava Jato scandal broke out and there were implications that Lula was directly involved in one of the biggest corruption cases of all time. The investigation started as a small money laundering case but as soon as the police found out that the doleiros, money dealers in english, were employed by Petrobras, the largest corporation in South America. With this revealed, it was shortly discovered that Petrobras was funneling money into the hands of politicians and political parties that helped the corporation’s objectives. Lula was accused of being the mastermind behind the whole scandal and was sent to jail in 2017, but was released in 580 days since the judge was accused of being biased. When out of prison, he readied himself up for the next election, with the backing of the Worker’s Cause Party, and won.

Bolsonaro’s politics, as severely opposed to Lula’s, are heavily right leaning with negative views on the LGBTQ+ community, abortion, and fraternizing with dictatorships. A large aspect of Bolsonaro’s platform are his Christian values which appealed to Brazil’s masses as the country is around 86% Christian. Bolsonaro also created a platform around being anti-corruption, being one of the key figures in the 2016 protests against Dilma Rousseff and Lula. He won against his opponent, Fernando Haddad by 55% and thus came into office in 2018. Jair Bolsonaro was Brazil's president during some of the most tumultuous years in the modern era. The former president promoted a free market economy and capitalism as a whole, which had positive and negative effects on the country: the poor got poorer while the rich got richer. Under Bolsonaro, unemployment and inflation rates dropped but Brazil’s GDP did too. During 2020, Brazil’s response to COVID19 was ranked as one of the worst in the world by the World Health Organization (WHO), only second to the US. Bolsonaro’s relationship with the US strengthened because of the close ideologies he shared with then president, Donald Trump, but the relationship with the EU fell because of his views on the Amazon Rainforest. With his term coming to a close, Bolsonaro decided to run for reelection against the now infamous Lula.


As previously stated, this election has caused tensions all around Brazil, making people turn against each other because of the very opposing ideologies of the candidates. Due to Lula’s victory, many Bolsonarists have incited protests, saying that Lula winning is unconstitutional and embarrassing for Brazil and are wishing for a coup to occur against Lula all around the country. Truck drivers who were in support of Bolsonaro have created roadblocks in 25 different states with 300 in total. There have been 17 roadblocks in Minas Gerais alone. Because of the large scale of the protest, Bolsonaro had to voice his opinion on the matter to his followers. Earlier today, Bolsonaro said that he was not in support of the roadblocks because transportation is a right to all and that it is undemocratic that the highways are blocked. He stated that the highways should be cleared “for the good of our nation and so that we can keep fighting for democracy and freedom” and that “God bless our Brazil”.


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