Bolsonaro and Lula battle for endorsements ahead of Brazil runoff

SAO PAULO – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on Tuesday began to rally centrist allies, two days after voting in Latin America’s largest democracy sent the rivals into a runoff on October 30.

Da Silva, a leftist commonly known as Lula, who served as president from 2003 to 2010, led Sunday’s first round with 48% of the vote. Far-right Bolsonaro received 43%.

The two men are the most popular and hated political figures in Brazil, which has led many politicians to announce they will not vote either.

Da Silva received a half-hearted endorsement from fourth-place finisher, centre-left candidate Ciro Gomes, who was once a key ally. Gomes, who had 3% of the vote, said in a video he was following his Democratic Labor Party’s decision to support the left-wing leader.

“Under the circumstances, (voting for da Silva) is the last resort,” said Gomes, who did not mention the former president by name in the video.

Bolsonaro garnered the support of three governors in southeastern Brazil, the country’s richest and most populous region — Romeu Zema in Minas Gerais and Claudio Castro in Rio de Janeiro, both of whom were re-elected on Sunday, and Rodrigo Garcia in Sao Paulo, who failed in his Bid.

Zema and Castro have backed Bolsonaro in the past but have remained largely silent on this year’s presidential race. Garcia, who took over the governorship of Sao Paulo after Joao Doria resigned in March, had not commented on the presidential race as of Tuesday.

Thomas Traumann, a political analyst, said Bolsonaro received a boost from the endorsements he received on Tuesday, but that da Silva could level the playing field if Senator Simone Tebet joins his campaign. Tebet, an outspoken critic of Bolsonaro, received 4% of the vote on Sunday and finished third out of 11 candidates.

“It can make a difference if the election campaign is less about the Labor Party and more about a coalition,” said Traumann. “Bolsonaro will have government machines in three states that are very influential. If the Labor Party doesn’t respond to that, they will give Bolsonaro a chance to win.”

Brazil’s once-powerful centre-right Social Democracy Party said it would not support either candidate in the runoff election and would allow its members to vote for themselves.

Some veteran members of the party have backed da Silva, such as Senator Tasso Jereissatti and former Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes. But some of the younger party members have sided with Bolsonaro, like federal lawmaker Lucas Redecker.

Bolsonaro told supporters in the Brasilia capital that he expects to close his 6 million vote gap through a tough election campaign in the southeast.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission. Bolsonaro and Lula battle for endorsements ahead of Brazil runoff

Sarah Y. Kim

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