March 22, 2023

East Valley Times

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Brazil: Middle class leans toward Bolsonaro over Lula

Ironically, right-wing populists Jair Bolsonaro Brazil’s president could be re-elected on Sunday.

Pollsters predicted that the former president would win Luis Inacio Lula da Silva On top of that October 2 first round goes to a tight ballot, Polls showing two candidates a Extreme heat.

Bolsonaro’s use of public funds to boost his popularity may be attributed to Lula and his allies’ failure. Disinformation campaign It is intended to smear Lula as a corrupt drug trafficker who plans to close churches across the country.

But the Labor candidate faces another tough hurdle: The middle class doesn’t seem to like it that much.

Conflict between the left and the middle class

Lula da Silva and Jair Bolsonaro.

This can be called the paradox of the left. While the poor in Brazil’s north and northeast remain firmly on Lula’s side, the middle class grew stronger in the more prosperous regions of the south and southeast during his presidency between 2003 and 2010, thanks to the government’s social security measures. invested its allegiance in the right.

This division is evident in a survey conducted by the newspaper last week Newspaper. Voters who won up to They love Lula. The minimum wage is around 230 USD By 20 points. But it is the voters who win Between two and five times the minimum wage electing Bolsonaro By almost 10 points.

These more affluent voters aren’t large — about two-thirds of Brazilian households have incomes that don’t exceed the threshold of two minimum wages — but They can conduct elections like this election.

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The right-wing bias is strange given that the Workers’ Party has middle-class roots in alliances between Brazil’s labor movement with various urban intellectuals who fought against dictatorship in the 1970s and 1980s and parts of the Catholic Church.

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Other cases

However, this trend extends beyond the Brazilian left. Center-left parties have suffered in much of Western Europe. Closer, Mexican Andrés Manuel López ObradorBilling himself as a left-wing agent of change, he has lashed out at the urban middle class who turned against him in last year’s assembly elections.

In BoliviaPresident’s ruling movement for socialism Lewis Ars and its predecessor Evo Morales It has strong support among indigenous Bolivians in the countryside, but less among the non-indigenous urban middle class. Even in UruguayA Latin American country that closely resembles generous European welfare states, The middle class turned against the 15-year-old government Wide frontcenter-left, and helped hand the presidency to the center-right two years ago.

Luis Arce and Evo Morales.
Luis Arce and Evo Morales.

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Tarsus-Sister-in-lawHaving been Labor leader, education minister, industrial relations minister and justice minister under Lula, he puts his party’s problems between them. Challenges facing the “classical left”. In the 19th and 20th centuries, inspired by the concept of class struggle born out of the industrial era, work largely determined people’s political identity.

Today’s most relevant political debates do not pit proletariat against capitalism. Social identities are now constructed around race, gender, place, religion, environmental concerns, and other concepts. Various demands and fears that do not fit the old paradigm And go beyond simple solutions.

“Bolsonaro has won over a social group tired of a liberal democracy that lacks quick answers”Jean said. Nowhere is this more evident than in the political appeal of the president’s scorched-earth approach to crime, which has tapped into Brazilians’ deep sense of insecurity.

Jair Bolsonaro
President Bolsonaro will seek re-election in a referendum on October 30.

From the perspective of Brazilian elections

Martha AretschThe political scientist at the University of São Paulo agrees that Brazilian elections will not be decided by exclusive issues. “There is a lot of evidence that this election is not just about the economy.”He said.

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Los Religious issues and traditional values — pro-family, anti-gay, etc. — is central to Bolsonaro’s rhetoric. That’s how it is Corruption The last time he was in power involved Lula and his party. Bolsonaro’s mobilization of hatred is fundamental, says Aretse: “Bolsonaro’s use of fear is impressive.”

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But Labour’s misfortunes are not just contingencies beyond its control. Indeed, Lula’s main challenge may lie in his own design, the result of which he can proudly call his mission: he sought to rule as a champion of the poor, fighting those above poverty. But they are not doing well.

Brazilian middle class

Between 2004 and 2014, the height of the Labor government, incomes for the bottom half of the population increased by around 35%. According to Mark Morgan & Amory Gettin, Tel World Inequality Lab de la Paris School of Economics. However, Brazilians between the 70th and 97th percentile of the income distribution are worst affected. 85 to 95 percent of people have reduced their income. They are not rich because they earn two or three times the minimum wage.

Luis Inacio Lula da Silva
Former President Lula da Silva authored the “Brazilian Miracle” that lifted millions of people out of poverty.

Arretche believes that raising wages at the bottom will provoke resentment from those slightly higher up the income ladder. A bank teller earning around $700 a month is forced to pay $300 for child support. “The middle class is pitted against the less privileged groups in society for their share of national income.Kethin and Morgan wrote.

As resources began to dwindle following the 2014 economic crisis, life for the middle class became more complicated. It is difficult to win over these voters with a promise to end hunger. Conversely, they may be upset if their problems are dismissed in order to focus on the poor.

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In 2002, Lula received 60% of the vote among Brazilians in the third and fourth quintiles of the income distribution, Gethin and Morgan point out, meaning the bottom 40% of the country’s population is better off, but the poorest 20%. In 2018, his political successor, Fernando Haddad, received less than 40% of the vote. Meanwhile, Labour’s share of the vote, more than 60%, remained unchanged among the poorest quintile.

It’s hard to say what Lula can do between now and Sunday to reverse this trend. And as Arretche points out, compared to the “destruction” of the moderate right, Labor still has significant staying power.

However, if Lula can succeed, Shifting the middle class to the right will be a pressing problem. For a party that helps lift the poor into the middle class, that’s nothing short of an existential threat.

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