Leftist tears: Brazil's left bawls about country's election result
In Brazil, radical leftists thought they had a presidential victory in the bag.
They were in for a surprise.
Although their candidate, Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva, actually got the most votes in Sunday's contest, it wasn't enough for an outright victory, so now they're headed for a runoff with incumbent conservative President Jair Bolsonaro.
The left-leaning Guardian tried to explain it out:
At the very least, they hoped for a commanding margin and a sense of momentum going into a runoff between the two. And progressives around the world were watching for an emphatic repudiation of Bolsonaro's presidency that would signal that the forces of extremism were in retreat. But it hasn't worked out that way.
Instead, Lula won 48% of votes, roughly in line with polls — but Bolsonaro did much better than expected, taking 43%, and his supporters also outperformed polls in state and senate races. Lula is expected to take most votes from the minor candidates who now drop out, and should be favourite to win in the second round on 30 October — but the road to victory looks rockier than it did on Sunday. The stakes could hardly be higher.
So now they're bawling about it, and leftist pundits are characterizing the result as "disappointing," "deflating," and "massively dispiriting."
Yet their leftist candidate, Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva, actually got the most votes. They're howling as if their candidate had lost. They thought Bolsonaro was a goner. They thought they were entitled to seeing that from voters. They didn't, so now they're blubbering.
The catharsis that Lula's supporters had hoped for failed to materialise. "It's massively dispiriting for the left," said Tom. "And really surprising — not in terms of Lula's vote, which is in line with what everyone thought, but in terms of Bolsonaro's, which is significantly higher. The pollsters got that badly wrong. I went to Lula's rally, and people were crying, or in a state of shock."
That mood of disappointment for the left was heightened by victory for Bolsonaro's allies in 19 of the 27 available Senate seats, as well as a strong showing in the lower house.
Apparently, the Bolsonaro side surprised them by its willingness to fight the leftists hard:
"It's been pretty toxic," [Guardian Latin American correspondent Tom Phillips] said. "I first covered an election here in 2006, and I've never seen this level of bitterness before. Bolsonaro treats elections as wars. A lot of people on the left have been frightened — one Lula supporter said to me on Saturday that it's the first time in my life I've been scared to put a sticker on my car."
Apparently, it's a committed bunch out there supporting Bolsonaro, with some willing to play rough. That had to have been a shock, because the left is used to employing those hard tactics, and up until now has expected the right to act the way it always does, which is to say that it will roll over and embrace the left's framings and narratives, always retreating a little to keep peace in the family. So the fact that some Bolsonaro-supporters have refused the old status quo has rattled the left's system.
With Lula taking 48% of the vote, and Bolsonaro taking a surprise 43%, there's actually a chance that Bolsonaro could win the election finale on October 30 if he can rally enough of the third-party voters, moderate Lula voters, and abstainers to come to the polls. The odds look tough for that, given that Latin America is in a left-wing trend right now, but there is definitely a chance it could happen. In Latin America, there are always one or two nations that defy the trends, and now that the failures of the left are getting obvious regionally — in Chile, Peru, Colombia, Argentina, Mexico, with vastly unpopular presidents, not to mention, the leftist hellholes such as Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba, the trend could be due to reverse.
Brazil trended less with Latin America in any case than it did with the U.S. when it elected "Tropical Trump" Bolsonaro in 2018. President Trump gave Bolsonaro his hearty endorsement in this election, too. With Lula now cribbing the old Joe Biden line about "unity" and voters by this time knowing the value of that, it may be that Bolsonaro could eke out a victory if the country trends with the U.S. again.
It's noteworthy that the expat vote tended to trend with Bolsonaro, except in a few very deep blue cities in the U.S. Even New York City narrowly went for Bolsonaro.
Bolsonaro wins the votes of Brazilians in the USA by a landslide.— Daniel Di Martino 🇺🇸🇻🇪 (@DanielDiMartino) October 3, 2022
Bolsonaro 55% 🔵 Lula 31% 🔴
Here's the breakdown in the largest consulates.
Miami 73% 🔵 16% 🔴
NYC 45% 🔵 42% 🔴
D.C. 41% 🔵 45% 🔴
San Francisco 33% 🔵 53% 🔴
Houston: 54% 🔵 28% 🔴
Chicago: 33% 🔵 50% 🔴
This rather looks like what the U.S. election map may look like if current trends continue in the U.S. and a red wave hits come November. In other words, based on their voting patterns, Brazilians are a lot like U.S. voters. That's one reason to think Brazil may trend with the U.S. rather than the rest of Latin America.
All the same, we had those hopes in Colombia and Chile when the runoff times came, and in both cases, the rabid leftists ran away with it. In Colombia and Chile, at least, there's a Legislature that holds a lot of opposition power there to brake the worst excesses of the ruling leftists, and all signs are there that the pattern may hold in Brazil as well, with many conservatives now winning seats in the states and legislative bodies. One can only hope for the best in Brazil, as the odds seem to favor Lula retaking power.
But as the Guardian notes in its hyperbole, "the far right is absolutely here to stay." That's good, because they had dismissed Bolsonaro as a goner. It signals the emergence of a real political pendulum instead of the sorry excuses for "conservative" that have existed up until Bolsonaro's victory in 2018. Let's hope Bolsonaro can keep it going and, in the meantime, water the entire rainforest with all the liberal tears.
Image: Screen shot from NBC News Now via YouTube.