3rd-place Tebet in Brazil vote announces support for Lula in runoff

Sao Paulo, Oct 5 (EFE).- Brazilian Sen. Simone Tebet, who came in third in last Sunday’s presidential election with 4.16 percent of the votes, announced Wednesday that she is supporting former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva – and top vote-getter in the weekend balloting, although he obtained only a plurality – in the Oct. 30 runoff.

“I will give my vote” to Lula because “I recognize his commitment to democracy and the Constitution, which the current president does not acknowledge,” she said at a Sao Paulo hotel referring to ultrarightist President Jair Bolsonaro, who is aspiring to win a second term.

The head of the center-right Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB) was the big surprise of the first round and her five million votes could be decisive for Lula, who obtained 48.4 percent of the votes in the first round, and will face off against Bolsonaro, who obtained 43.2 percent of the votes last Sunday.

Tebet said that despite the fact that some of her party colleagues had asked her to remain neutral, she could not do so at such a “serious” moment in Brazil’s history, saying that it is a country “divided by discourses of hatred, ideological polarization and power disputes.”

She emphasized that up until Oct. 30 she will remain “on the street” and “vigilant” because she feels that Brazil needs to be “rebuilt” after almost four years of Bolsonaro’s governance, during which the country “was abandoned in the bonfire of hatred and denial” of the coronavirus pandemic.

Nevertheless, she reiterated her criticism of Lula, especially for calling for people’s so-called tactical votes in the first round “without presenting (concrete) proposals” to resolve Brazil’s problems.

Thus, she linked her support for Lula to his including several of her proposals, including eliminating the waiting list for early child education, ending the delay in medical exams and surgeries caused by Covid-19 and resolving the problems of the country’s most indebted families.

In addition, she called for lawmakers to support a bill mandating equal pay for men and women, currently logjammed in Congress and, if Lula wins the presidency, for him to form a “plural (government) with men, women, blacks, people with disabilities, having as requirements competence, ethics and the will to serve.”

Before Tebet made her announcement, the MDB had released its supporters so they may decide whether to back Lula or Bolsonaro.

The senator joins other well-known figures in supporting the socialist Lula, including former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who governed from 1995-2002, as well as political parties that in recent hours have positioned themselves at the side of the Workers Party (PT) leader.

On Tuesday, Lula received the support of the Citizenry and the Democratic Workers Party (PDT), which fielded as its presidential candidate Ciro Gomes, who came in fourth in the balloting with 3.04 percent of the votes.

Gomes, despite being very critical of Lula during the campaign, faithfully abided by his party’s decision and said he will back the PT leader’s candidacy as Lula continues making new alliances to cement his lead among voters with an eye toward denying Bolsonaro another term in office.

Bolsonaro, a retired army captain who has repeatedly indicated his nostalgia for Brazil’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship, has also been negotiating new support since Sunday’s election, in which he obtained substantially more votes than had been predicted by all the voter surveys.

In that regard, Bolsonaro has received the public backing of the governors of the country’s three biggest electoral zones – Rodrigo Garcia, in Sao Paulo; Romeu Zema, in Minas Gerais; and Claudio Castro, in Rio de Janeiro, although the latter two had already been supporting him.

EFE cms/ed/laa/bp

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