Opinion: Lula’s language also endangers democracy | Comments | DW

Germany/Brazil The independent Latin America correspondent Tobias Kaufer

If Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has his way, nothing else is at stake in Sunday’s elections than Brazil’s independence. According to the presidential candidate of the left-wing PT, a defeat at the ballot box means the end of democracy. This is a strange attitude towards free elections and their results. It’s not that far removed from right-wing populist President Jair Bolsonaro’s unspeakable comments about a manipulated election outcome, for which he has no evidence.

The newspaper “Estadao” commented a few days ago that Lula insults and treats the Brazilians who don’t want to vote for him as “enemies”. The experienced ex-head of state, who ruled Brazil from 2003 to 2011, deliberately opted for this aggressive campaign style, using methods similar to those of the controversial incumbent. That’s why the classification into left-wing or right-wing populism is correct, even if the Lula camp doesn’t want to have anything to do with it. It is well known that only the other camp is populist.

“Devils and Demons” against the “Ku Klux Klan”

If the polls are right, then Lula, as the winner of the elections, will take over a country that is split to the hairs from January 1, 2023. And it’s not just Bolsonaro’s unspeakable comments that are to blame, but also Lula’s verbal attacks. Insulting the participants in the pro-Bolsonaro demonstrations as members of the Ku Klux Klan fits into the verbal patterns that Lula is currently using. While Bolsonaro and his wife Michelle talk about having to save Brazil from demons, the devil, communism and call Lula a thief, he counters that they have to protect Brazil from fascism, the Ku Klux Klan, and bondage Bolsonaro a genocide. How is a reconciliation with the defeated part of the Brazilian electorate actually possible after the elections when the “others” obviously only consist of fascists, communists, devils, demons, thieves, genocides or supporters of the Ku Klux Klan?

Devastating record – on both sides

There is a reason for this populist campaign. And that is the political record of the two political alpha animals. After four years of Bolsonaro, Brazil has gotten into a veritable social crisis due to the current head of government being overwhelmed. In such a situation, a conciliatory course on the other side would actually be necessary in order to build bridges again.

Germany/Brazil The independent Latin America correspondent Tobias Kaufer

Tobias Buyer is a freelance Latin America correspondent and reports from Rio de Janeiro, among other places

But the verbal attacks are Lula’s obvious attempt to distract from his own balance sheet and that of his Labor Party PT. Ultimately, it was voters’ deep disappointment at the poor state of the country after 13 years of PT that – after a brief interlude by Michel Temer as president – brought Bolsonaro to power in 2019. His victory was by no means based solely on fake news from the right-wing camp, as populists like to claim today. Under no other president has so much Amazon rainforest been cut down in this century as under Lula. To this day, his political responsibility for the gigantic corruption scandals surrounding the Odebrecht and Petrobras corporations has not been dealt with. His decision to bring the World Cup and the Olympics to the country while hospitals and schools decayed led to an economic debacle and a societal rift. And if Lula rightly accuses Bolsonaro of playing down the Brazilian military dictatorship, then Lula must also be measured by his support for the brutal, repressive left-wing regimes in Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, which are causing people to flee their homes every day.

Bluster instead of solutions

The discrimination of the political opponent makes the social networks boil and distracts. It prevents debates about the causes of the country’s real problems, in which both electoral favorites play their part. However, the real drama of the insulting discourses for democracy is that the certainly existing, less aggressive alternatives on the ballot paper are lost in the maelstrom of insults. And so populism wins. Yet again.


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