Brazil Next President Odds Shift as Bolsonaro Protests Grow
According to politics betting sites, Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro is expected to lose the next general election after a dramatic spike in popularity for his rival and ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in recent weeks.
The trend has been fuelled by the government’s disastrous national Covid-19 response with South America’s most populous country recently surpassing 500,000 coronavirus deaths and is struggling to ramp up its vaccine drive.
Only 11% of Brazilian residents have so far been vaccinated against Covid, while there has been little state support for those unable to work.
What’s more, conservative president Bolsonaro has persistently maintained throughout the pandemic that neither lockdowns nor vaccines would help combat the virus.
The 66-year-old’s handling of the pandemic has been much criticised even though he was still gaining support of loyalists last summer when Covid was beginning to spread across the continent.
Yet recent nationwide protests across 44 cities have exposed the frustration and anger towards the president after Brazil’s death toll – the second-highest in the world after the US – ticked over half a million.
Brazil Politics Betting
“We are protesting against the genocidal Bolsonaro government that did not buy vaccines and has done nothing to take care of its people in the last year,” one protester told Reuters.
Polling figures have seen Bolsonaro’s popularity drop to around 27%, while his rival Lula is now floating at 38%. That is a dramatic reversal from June 2020 when Bolsonaro was riding a wave of popularity for not shutting the country down as Covid swept across the planet.
Political betting odds have followed suit. Bolsonaro is now the 17/10 second favourite to win the 2022 Brazilian election, behind Lula (6/5). Lula himself was a two-term president of Brazil between 2003 and 2010 and is expected to run for the Workers’ Party at the election next year.
The left-wing political veteran is seen as a viable counter to Bolsonaro’s right-wing presidency and had an 80% approval rating when he departed from office a decade ago. Brazil’s Supreme Court has since dropped money laundering charges against Lula, meaning he is now free to stand for election again.
What Next For Bolsonaro?
With Brazil’s infection rates currently fluctuating between 80,000 and 100,000, Covid is not going away any time soon. Epidemiologists have warned that the national death toll could hit 800,000.
Yet Bolsonaro appears determined to stick to his approach of refusing to back social distancing measures and denouncing vaccines.
To make matters worse, he inflamed the opposition by opening the country’s doors to the Copa America football tournament, which is now being staged in Brazil after Argentina said their Covid rate – which is lower than Brazil’s – was too high to safely host matches.
As for Lula, he would also have to wrestle power off Fernando Haddad for the Workers’ Party nomination. Haddad lost to Bolsonaro in 2017 by 45% to 55%.
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