Brazil elections: an example for Turkey?

Brazil elections: an example for Turkey?
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The second round of Brazilian presidential elections held on Sunday which resulted in the victory of former-president Lula has many aspects in common with the upcoming Turkish elections.

In Sunday's second round of the Brazilian presidential election, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva defeated incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro. The Supreme Electoral Court of Brazil declared Lula the next president with 50.9 percent of the votes against 49.1 percent for Bolsonaro.

Lula will be inaugurated for his third presidential term on Jan. 1, 2023. In a speech, Lula said he would unite a divided country and ensure that Brazilians "put down arms that never should have been taken up."

"I will govern for 215 million Brazilians, and not just for those who voted for me," Lula said, adding: "There are not two Brazils. We are one country, one people, one great nation."

Brazil’s outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro has not conceded, yet. On Monday, Bolsonaro headed to the presidential palace but did not make any public comments.

Lula has vowed to overturn Bolsonaro’s legacy, such as his pro-gun stance, and policies that accelerated the destruction of the Amazon rainforest and turned the pandemic even worse, which left nearly 700,000 dead in Brazil.

During his presidency, Bolsonaro attracted global attention for becoming a major international figure of the far right, and also for his attacks on the left, the media, and Brazil’s democratic institutions.

Bolsonaro’s lack of acceptance of defeat raises fears of a far-right nationalist rejection of Lula’s victory. Without evidence, he claimed that the electronic voting machines are rife with fraud and suggested he might not accept a loss, much like former US President Donald Trump. Many of his supporters vowed to take to the streets at his command.

Brazil-Turkey Comparisons

In an article he wrote for Cumhuriyet, Orhan Bursali compared the Brazilian elections to the upcoming Turkish elections. Bursali, claiming that Bolsonaro has a very loyal base of 20 percent, suggested that Bolsonaro could still stay in power even if he lost and likened this situation to Turkey.

Bursali, claiming that there are many similarities between Brazil and Turkey said: “Let me share the following observation from Brazil: ‘Familiar tactics such as threats, attacks, and fake news’ are on the agenda and he (Bolsonaro) uses them against party leaders. As with authoritarian populist leaders, the policy of supporters of Bolsonaro is to lie brazenly. These methods almost serve as a ‘test of loyalty’ for their voters. Even if it is a lie, even if it is not true, you will believe and support it. In Turkey as well, the government has adopted this atmosphere!”

Bursali added that the change of power in Turkey may not happen as easily as in Brazil, since all the powers are gathered in one authority.

In an article published in Politikyol, Seda Demiralp said that it is useful to evaluate the Brazilian experience these days since there are debates about the validity and reliability of the election polls in Turkey.

Demiralp notes that the polling companies in Brazil had a hard time predicting the potential votes for Bolsonaro. Many polling companies predicted that Lula would finish the first round of the elections with a 15 percent margin against Bolsonaro and approximately 48 percent of the votes, and possibly even surpass 50 percent and win the election in the first round.

In the end, Lula did indeed get around 48 percent of the vote. But the surprise was Bolsonaro's votes. He received around 43 percent of the vote, 10 points higher than expected. Demiralp notes that right-wing votes were hard to predict in similar elections such as the 2016 US presidential, the 2015 UK general elections, and the 2016 Brexit referendum.

Demiralp says that in the election polls in Turkey, women, the elderly, low-educated, rural, and Kurdish electorate are harder to reach compared to other segments of the society, thus she notes that potential right-wing votes can seem low in the polls. Demiralp suggests taking Brazil as an example while trying to predict the potential votes in the 2023 Turkish elections.