Monday, 5 December, 2022

Brazil third-place candidate backs Lula in runoff

SAO PAULO: The candidate who finished third in Brazil's first-round presidential election gave her endorsement Wednesday to leftist veteran Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva for his runoff against far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, reports AFP.

Center-right Senator Simone Tebet won 4.2 percent of the vote Sunday -- the first choice of nearly five million Brazilians whose votes Lula (48.4 percent) and Bolsonaro (43.2 percent) both want in the October 30 runoff.

Tebet, an anti-abortion Catholic whose support could be key to swaying socially conservative and women voters, criticized both ex-president Lula (2003-2010) and Bolsonaro at a news conference in Sao Paulo.

But she said there was no doubt which was worse.

"These past four years, Brazil has been consumed by a bonfire of hate and strife," she said, attacking Bolsonaro over his Covid-19 "denialism," pro-gun policies and the 30 million Brazilians living in hunger.

"I maintain my criticism of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva... but I will give him my vote, because I recognize his commitment to democracy and the constitution, which I have never seen from the current president."

The endorsement came after her party, the Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB) -- whose leadership was split between pro-Bolsonaro and pro-Lula camps -- said members could back whichever man they wanted.

Lula also scored an endorsement from his predecessor as president, Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1995-2002), the center-right politician who beat him in the 1994 and 1998 elections.

Cardoso wrote on Twitter that he would cast his vote for Lula's "history of struggle for democracy and social inclusion."

He posted two pictures of himself and his successor over the years -- a black-and-white image from 1980, and a more recent one in color.

"Thank you for your vote and your trust," Lula replied.

ula also got an endorsement Tuesday -- albeit a grudging one -- from center-left rival Ciro Gomes, Sunday's fourth-place candidate (three percent).

Bolsonaro, whose far-right movement scored big gains in Congressional and governor's races Sunday, has meanwhile gotten endorsements from the governors of Brazil's three biggest states -- Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro -- as well as influential corruption-busting ex-judge Sergio Moro.

He added to the list Wednesday with the backing of the governors of Brasilia, Parana and Goias.