Buenos Aires Weather | Lula is looking to pivot his campaign to northeast Brazil ahead of the second round

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva huddles in São Paulo on Monday with his top advisers as the leftist former Brazilian president seeks to pivot his campaign to the northeast of the country and the key state of São Paulo after a vote in the first turn narrower than expected.

His meetings with campaign advisers also focus on how to broaden his coalition of supporters to include more centrist politicians – the key group to win as he and President Jair Bolsonaro start the clock on another month of campaigning before a second round. October 30.

Lula, as he is widely known, won the most votes on Sunday. But at 48% to Bolsonaro’s 43%, he failed to secure an outright victory, and the margin was closer than most pollsters expected.

He meets with campaign advisers on Monday afternoon to map areas needing improvement and issue marching orders. One of the priorities is to secure the support of Senator Simone Tebet, who finished third in Sunday’s race and has already signaled that she may take her side, according to two senior campaign officials. On Sunday, she refrained from announcing her support for Lula, saying she would give her coalition leaders 48 hours to decide who to support.

“I won’t be negligent,” she said. “I have a side and I will speak at the right time.”

A major challenge for Lula is the state of São Paulo, home to nearly a quarter of the country’s voters, and where he began his political career as a labor leader five decades ago. Still, Bolsonaro won the state by a margin of seven percentage points, and the Workers Party’s rejection of Lula was stronger than his camp expected.

Former São Paulo governor Geraldo Alckmin – Lula’s running mate – will have to work harder in the state, including securing support from agribusiness leaders, advisers said, asking not to be identified to discuss campaign strategy. At the national level, Alckmin will be tasked with securing the support of politicians who broke with Bolsonaro but are also not comfortable associating with the Workers’ Party after a series of corruption scandals rocked his previous governments.

nightmare scenario

Bolsonaro’s strong performances across Brazil, including his unexpected inroads in some northeastern states that have traditionally been Lula’s stronghold, have brought a cold dose of reality to Lula’s campaign. A sense of frustration swept through his headquarters on Sunday night when it became clear the former president would finish the race with a lead of just over five percentage points. The worst-case scenario, people said, would have been an eight-percentage-point gap.

Such a narrow lead could be explained by a migration of some of Ciro Gomes’ supporters to Bolsonaro, according to the population.

A former governor of Ceara, the second-largest state in the northeast region, Gomes sought to become a viable middle-lane alternative to Lula on the left and Bolsonaro on the right, but never reached 10% intent. voting in opinion polls.

As Gomes’ campaign struggled, more of his traditionally left-wing supporters drifted towards Lula. He responded by stepping up attacks on the former president, including citing past corruption allegations against him.

Gomes came in fourth on Sunday with just three percent of the vote, his lowest showing in four presidential elections. Lula’s advisers expect the majority of those votes to go to him whether or not Gomes decides to back the former president.

Lula will also spend more time campaigning in the northeast region, especially in his home state of Pernambuco where he didn’t get the strong result he expected. Lula won the state with 65% of the vote to Bolsonaro’s 30%, against a forecast of 69% to 23% in an Ipec poll released on the eve of the vote.

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by Simone Iglesias, Bloomberg

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