RÍO DE JANEIRO.– Much more than a photo. A lunch among the Brazilian ex-presidents Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Fernando Henrique Cardoso, historical adversaries, stirred the race towards the presidential election of 2022 and narrowed the already narrow path for the emergence of a “third way” to polarization between the PT and the president Jair bolsonaro.
The ex-presidents, on opposite paths in the last seven presidential elections, had lunch on May 12 at the home of former Minister of Justice and Defense Nelson Jobim. Lula made the meeting public on Friday by posting a photo on Twitter, with a suggestive message: “A lunch with a lot of democracy on the menu ”.
At the invitation of ex-minister Nelson Jobim, or ex-president Lula and ex-president Fernando Henrique Cardoso will meet for a meeting with a lot of non-cardiac democracy. pic.twitter.com/6f0mwcc3wI
– Lula (@LulaOficial) May 21, 2021
Just an hour after the publication, Bolsonaro reacted in a ceremony in Açailândia, Marañao state. He assured that the elections already have a formula confirmed with “A candidate thief and a vagabond as vice”, without specifying who he was referring to.
The meeting between Cardoso and Lula sealed a growing closeness between the ex-presidents, who had been exchanging praise in the press in recent weeks. “The former presidents had a long conversation about Brazil, about our democracy and about the negligence of the Bolsonaro government in the pandemic,” read a note released by the PT’s press team.
The Tucano, who still holds the honorary presidency of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB), faces the presidential election in October 2022 with a different stance than the last one. In a recent interview with the newspaper Economic value had confessed that If there is a second round between Jair Bolsonaro and Lula, a scenario that most polls draw as probable, he will not hesitate to vote for Lula.
“I am not afraid of the PT. Who does not have a dog, hunts with a cat”Said FHC. In 2018 the Tucano abstained from supporting any candidate in the ballottage between the former mayor of San Pablo Fernando Haddad and Bolsonaro.
The meeting caused discomfort in the PSDB. The party has in its ranks two presidential candidates, among them the governor of São Paulo, João Doria, who in the pandemic raised his profile with a critical tone of Bolsonaro’s management. “We need to avoid the wrong signals to our constituents”said Bruno Araújo, president of the PSDB. “The party remains firm in the construction of a candidacy far from the extremes.”
FHC had to come out to defend its decision to meet with Lula. The former president (1995-2002) said that the meeting was a “gesture of civility to strengthen democracy and help relax” the political environment. “I went to talk. No electoral purpose. The PSDB must launch a candidate and I will support him. If we do not reach the second round, I will not support the current president, but whoever opposes him, even Lula”He wrote on Twitter.
In addition to encouraging the PT, the convergence between FHC and Lula further weakens the emergence of a third force by 2022, analysts consulted by LA NACION agreed.
A survey by consulting firm Datafolha released last week showed that Lula leads the race for 2022 with 41% intention to vote, against 23% for Bolsonaro. In an eventual second round, the PT leader would prevail by 55% to 32%, according to Datafolha. At the beginning of the month, another work by the consulting firm Paraná Pesquisas showed Bolsonaro above Lula for 32.7% to 29.3%, and a draw within the margin of error for the second round. For both Datafolha and Paraná Pesquisas there is currently no other candidate that exceeds 7% intention to vote.
The third way is still very fragmented and divided, without having defined a common agenda until now, “said Mauricio Santoro, a political scientist at the Rio de Janeiro State University.
FHC has influence and shared events with other critical candidates of polarization such as Doria; the governor of Rio Grande do Sul, Eduardo Leite; the former minister Ciro Gomes; and popular television host Luciano Huck.
In the PT, the approximation with the maximum reference of the PSDB was celebrated as a step by Lula towards the construction of a conciliatory and dialogue candidate, a characteristic that he tries to highlight as opposed to Bolsonaro and that he seeks to exploit to expand his base beyond the left.
“Lunch is not an electoral alliance, but it is a clear symbolic provision that there is room for convergence in the PT. Lula became radical in the last time, but he was always a politician who walked towards the center. Perhaps he is trying to rebuild the path that led him to the presidency in 2002, “said Leandro Consentino, professor of political science at Insper de São Paulo.
The PT, who just over two months ago regained his political rights, said this week that He will not hesitate to be a candidate in 2022 if he is healthy and has a chance of winning. It is still unknown who could accompany him in the formula. Consentino said that Lula could end up opting for a profile similar to that of businessman José Alencar, the leftist’s partner in the election that brought him to the first term.
“The great concern of many is how it would behave in relation to the economy and the commitment to fiscal responsibility and moving forward with reforms. If you put a man from the market in your formula, as in 2002, you can deepen the path to the center, “said Consentino.