Brazil: Bolsonaro, Lula Face Off In First Run-off Debate

Brazil: Bolsonaro, Lula Face Off In First Run-off Debate
Last updated Oct 17, 2022
Image credit: Associated Press


  • Brazil's right-wing incumbent Jair Bolsonaro and leftist former Pres. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva faced off Sunday in their first head-to-head debate ahead of the Oct. 30 runoff election, which was marked by Bolsonaro's handling of the COVID pandemic and corruption scandals involving Lula's Workers' Party.
  • Moreover, while Lula called Bolsonaro a "little dictator" and presented himself as a guardian of Brazilian democracy, Bolsonaro accused Lula and his Workers' Party of supporting authoritarian leftist regimes in Latin America and emphasized his conservative stance on abortion, internal security, and drugs.
  • Both candidates tended to focus more on personal attacks and accusations than on a substantive discussion on policy proposals, such as details on the financing of a more generous welfare program that both pledged to implement after winning the election.
  • Meanwhile, it was reported that during publicly-funded official election broadcasts on radio and TV, the Lula and Bolsonaro campaigns both attacked each other with social media content reported to have been based on falsehoods or distorted information.
  • Lula, who governed Brazil from 2003 to 2010 and won the first round of voting on Oct. 2 with 48%, against 43% for Bolsonaro, continues to lead the presidential race by a similar margin, according to recent surveys.
  • Amid Lula's reportedly shrinking lead, both candidates are set to meet for a final face-to-face debate days before the final ballot takes place on Oct. 30.


Left narrative

Bolsonaro's four-year term has been disastrous, with millions having been pushed back into poverty and hundreds of thousands dying during the pandemic. Lula is the right choice to rebuild Brazil and protect the poor, restoring social rights and halting police violence and authoritarianism.

Right narrative

Despite Bolsonaro having long been criticized by Brazil's powerful leftist press, he's still the best option for many voters who compare his term with Lula's Workers' Party's history of corruption and ties with left-wing populists. In addition, the Brazilian economy has been impressively robust under Bolsonaro's pro-market economic team.

Cynical narrative

It's certain that political polarization has been deepening in Brazil, but this presidential election won't lead to radical changes. Both the left and the right are far from dominating the next Congress, forcing the country's next leader to make concessions for the powerful non-ideological group known as "Centrão," or the "Big Middle," to pass his agenda.

Nerd narrative

There's a 23% chance that Jair Bolsonaro will be president of Brazil on January 2, 2023, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

Political split



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