The State of Minas Gerais is historically a vital territory to win the presidential elections in Brazil because, with São Paulo, it contributes more voters than any other to the national count and because, in addition, whoever wins there reaches the Presidency. US election buffs would say it’s the brazilian ohio. As the election on the 30th approaches, electoral trips there multiply. Leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who is seeking his third term as head of a coalition in defense of democracy, is holding three rallies there between Friday and Saturday. President Jair Bolsonaro was also there this week and his wife, Michelle, stars in a six-act marathon there in two days, part of her women-focused tour.
Minas is not an easy trophy to win, as its voters made clear in the first round, held last day 2. That day they voted for president but also governors and parliamentarians. In the presidential race, Minas Gerais put Lula (48%) ahead of Jair Bolsonaro (43%) while re-electing as governor a businessman who came to power as an ally of the far-right president. Romeu Zema won a second term after a campaign of calculated ambiguity – without opting for anyone for the presidency. Two days later, with the victory already secured, he made his support for Bolsonaro official for the second round. The president also has the support of the governors of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, while Lula managed to recruit the presidential candidates who came third and fourth.
Mining voters, always valuable for their volume (12 million), have become even more precious in the current context, with one of the most closely contested campaigns in recent decades and without a doubt the most polarized. The two candidates for the presidency are old acquaintances of Brazilians and that is why there are very few undecided. Lula and Bolsonaro rush the hours to get each of the precious votes that can pave the way to victory. The polls already point to a technical tie.
Lula has given two rallies this Friday in Minas and after spending the night there, he plans to give another tomorrow. In Juiz de Fora, he has accused Governor Zema of “lying, of trying to deceive the electorate” by revealing only after the first round who he preferred for president “because he was afraid of losing that 40% of his voters who voted for me.” Those are the voters where the pulse is tighter.
Along with Lula at the rallies this Friday, two women who have just joined his campaign with their sights set on attracting voters who are suspicious of the PT because they consider it too radical or tainted by corruption and evangelical voters: Simone Tebet, the defeated presidential candidate and representative of the agricultural sector, and former minister Marina Silva, defender of the environment and member of the Assembly of God, the largest evangelical church in Brazil. In the interests of softening his image and at the request of Tebet, the former president has replaced the red shirts and caps with white or blue pieces.
One of Lula’s stops has been in Juiz de Fora, a city that also voted for him and for Governor Zema. It was there that four years ago a madman pounced with a knife on Bolsonaro while he was being paraded on the shoulders of a crowd and seriously injured him in the abdomen. That attack separated Bolsonaro from the electoral debates.
Join EL PAÍS to follow all the news and read without limits.
Now his wife has taken on a huge role in the campaign. She leads a group of Bolsonaro women who have embarked on an intense tour across the country to try to convince the most reluctant female voters that, beyond his forms, Bolsonaro is the best defender of the family, ultra-conservative values and a dam. against the communist threat. “Don’t look at my husband, look at me, I am a servant of the Lord,” said Mrs. Bolsonaro, who is a fervent evangelical, in an act with co-religionists. Her husband is Catholic, but he maintains a close political alliance with the leaders of Brazil’s fastest-growing Protestant churches.
Subscribe here to the EL PAÍS América newsletter and receive all the key information on current affairs in the region.