Brazilian Elections in 2018 - Peter Prengaman - AP Rio de Janeiro Bureau Chief - Tuesday 09/18

Brazilian Elections in 2018
Peter Prengaman
AP Rio de Janeiro Bureau Chief
Tuesday 09/18


Remember Hamlet’s famous dilemma, “To be or not to be, that is the question.”  He’s talking about himself, and whether he should live or die.

In Brazil, the question has been given a political twist, only in this case, the guy asking “to be or not to be” isn’t talking about being true to himself.  Newly-anointed Workers Party Presidential candidate Fernando Haddad insists he is his own man, and will be as President.  But the man who anointed him, former President Luis Ignacio Lula da Silva says, “From now on he will be Lula for millions of Brazilians.”

Why?  Because, says Lula in a public letter written in his jail cell where he’s doing 12 years for corruption, “I want everyone who would vote for me to vote for Fernando Haddad for president of Brazil.”

How many voters will accept Haddad being Lula will determine, at the very least, who gets into the final round of the election process.  The smart money seems to say he’ll get there.

Where he will almost certainly face the current leader in the polls, right-wing militant Jair Bolsonaro.  With about 25% of voters polled supporting him, Bolsonaro doubles the share of his nearest rival. But until he finally gave up his legal appeals to get onto the ballot, Lula had polled far ahead of Bolsonaro, and since Lula’s endorsement, Haddad has been rising like steam from a grate.

Since together, the top 2 candidates are likely to take less than half of the vote, the question is who can build from his base better for Round #2?

In that context recent polls look like bad news for Bolsonaro, famous for his loud disparagement of women, gays, and people of color.  He was stabbed and seriously injured on the campaign trail. It looks like he may be in the hospital past election day. So, he should expect some sympathy from voters, right?  Weeks before the stabbing Bolsonaro polled in one big survey at 22%. Days after the stabbing that had shot up all the way to 24%. Meanwhile in another poll, 44% of Brazilians said they would never vote for Bolsonaro, who not only spouts hate speech, he backs the return of a military dictatorship, because he says, it’s cleaner than democracy.

He must be thinking of the requests by Federal prosecutors to charge current President Michel Temer, center-right candidate Geraldo Alckmin and, yes, Fernando Haddad with corruption.

What’s a voter to do?



In 14 years at the AP, Peter Prengaman has been a reporter, video journalist and editor on many big stories, including the uprising that ousted Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004, the Arab Spring in Egypt and most recently, the Zika virus spreading across Latin America. 

He joined the cooperative in 2002 in Portland, Oregon, and later served as Caribbean correspondent based in the Dominican Republic, immigration beat reporter and supervisor in Los Angeles and the interactive and graphics editor for the Southern United States, based in Atlanta. 

Prengaman was part of teams that received the Polk Award and Grantham Prize for environmental reporting during the Gulf oil spill and the APME Multimedia Award for a major economic interactive project called the AP Economic Stress Index. He received an Edward R. Murrow award for video stories on unemployed people suffering through the worst economic crisis in the United States in decades. He also received the Atlanta Press Club Award of Excellence for video and print stories during the Haiti earthquake and trapped miners in Chile in 2010.’s%20Picks%20OC



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