In 46 minutes and 5,296 words, Lula da Silva ended five weeks of blunders, mistakes, internal intrigues and ammunition for the adversary. In his speech as pre-candidate on Saturday (05/07), in São Paulo, Lula focused his campaign on building a political front against Jair Bolsonaro. Pointing out a radical difference with the current president, Lula promised a government of normality. “To get out of the crisis, grow and develop, Brazil needs to go back to being a normal country, in the highest sense of the word. No more threats, no more absurd suspicions, no more verbal blackmail, no more artificial tensions”.
Nothing about Saturday’s event event was by accident. The speech read, something rare in the more than 40 years of Lula’s career, was the result of weeks of heated internal debates. Since he was president, Lula has not made such a centrist speech. He repeated the word “democracy” nine times, swore not to harbor a feeling of revenge and exchanged the promise of “repeal of labor reform” for the defense of “civilized legislation”.
In scenario A of PT strategists, it is possible to win the election in the first round. They believe Bolsonaro has a ceiling of 40%, high enough to nullify the other candidates, but which prevents his victory. The Bolsonarista threats of contesting the result, however, may, in the PT’s assessment, serve to convince voters of Ciro Gomes, João Doria and Simone Tebet that it is safer to vote for Lula in the first round. But for that, Lula will have to campaign more centrally.
This tactic started at Saturday’s event. Except for PT president Gleisi Hoffmann, none of the main guests wore red. Both Lula and the candidate for vice president Geraldo Alckmin were in a blue suit with a white shirt.
On the big screen of the stage, instead of the traditional PT star, there was the Brazilian flag. In one of the rare improvisations, Lula stated that neither former president Dilma Rousseff nor former minister José Dirceu will have positions in a new government. He ended the speech by asking for “God’s blessing.”
The monotone tone of the speech read took away the emotion, but made the messages clear. “We want to unite Democrats of all origins and shades, of the most varied political trajectories, of all social classes and of all religious creeds to face and overcome the totalitarian threat”, he said, when explaining the invitation for Alckmin to be his candidate. the vice.
Before Lula, also reading a text, Alckmin spoke for 14 minutes by video. Absent from the launch because he was with Covid, Alckmin attacked Bolsonaro from a fiscal bias (“wasteful in public spending, unprepared in running the economy, administratively inefficient”) and defended the alliance as something above differences. “Disputes are part of the democratic process, but, above disputes, something more urgent and relevant is required: the defense of democracy itself,” he said.
Candidate speeches are not meant to vote, but to set the tone for the campaign. In recent weeks, pressured by internal resistance to Alckmin, Lula has made several gestures to the left, from changing labor legislation to state control of Petrobras. The zigzag included strategic mistakes, such as advocating the legalization of abortion, contempt for police officers and the threat of dismissal of the military. Saturday’s speech indicates that the improvisation phase may be over.
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