Although the far-right President Jair Bolsonaro is around five percent behind his left-wing challenger Lula da Silva after the first round of voting, he did far better than the pollsters had predicted with 43 percent.

For them, the outcome of the election represents a disaster and opens the door to right-wing conspiracy myths of falsified poll results in favor of the left.

The media must also ask themselves why they continued to spin the narrative of the far behind Bolsonaro, even though his mobilization potential was evident at his demonstrations across the country.

In doing so, they have, albeit unintentionally, further increased distrust of the traditional media.

Even if, using current election arithmetic, Lula da Silva can be expected to win against Bolsonaro in the second ballot in three weeks’ time, he will be dealing with an extremely right-wing and unruly Congress.

There, the many new senators and MPs belonging to Bolsonaro’s movement will do everything they can to torpedo any plan by Lula.

Lula wanted to make Brazil greener and more international again. He wanted to strengthen education, culture and science, better protect the indigenous people and give blacks and the underprivileged more opportunities and rights. But the new Congress will hardly play along.

The right, which will set the tone in the new Congress, wants something completely different: it wants to further facilitate gun ownership, create more disciplined military schools, exploit the Amazon forest more ruthlessly and strengthen the evangelical churches.

No further rights should be granted to sexual minorities and no quotas for blacks should be extended.

For progressive-thinking people, this is a nightmare scenario. They are not only disappointed after this election, but downright disturbed and scared. There is already talk of the ungovernability of Brazil.

Because even for the great communicator Lula, who always says that he can talk to everyone, it will be difficult to enter into a dialogue with Bolsonaro’s right.

Bolsonaro’s movement is amazingly similar to Donald Trump’s in the US or the lateral thinker movement in Germany.

Their followers only get information in their own closed channels, in which new conspiracy myths are spun almost every day.

They are no longer interested in compromises with the other side, whom they see as the enemy. Instead, they provoke and sabotage wherever possible.

The biggest losers in the election are therefore also the moderate conservatives. Bolsonaro’s movement has emerged as a serious political force in Brazil, at the expense of the centre-right, that will not disappear and should not be underestimated.

Lula will now try to move further into the political center. It is possible that he will soon present an orthodox candidate for his finance and economy ministry.

In the next three exhausting weeks of campaigning, he will have to think about how to overcome the disappointment of the left and break through Bolsonaro’s momentum. Surprisingly, it won in the populous and economically strong states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Contrary to what was hoped, this election does not mean a reversal of the destructive past four years. It does not bode well for Brazil’s environment, its indigenous people and the democratization of society.

But Brazil’s international role is likely to continue to suffer. The country is more isolated today than it has been in decades due to harsh foreign policy and Bolsonaro’s ruthless actions in the Amazon.

Lula wanted to change that. The EU would also be immediately ready to enter into a dialogue with him again to talk about the protection of the Amazon, human rights and the free trade agreement with the Mercosur countries that is on hold.

Should Lula still narrowly win in the end, he is likely to be so busy domestically that foreign policy will play a secondary role.

Brazil continues to move backwards with the election. Many voters apparently have no problem with Bolsonaro’s attacks on science, culture, the environment, education, indigenous people and democracy – on the contrary, they seem to support them.

It’s hard to imagine where Brazil is going if Bolsonaro should still win in three weeks – possibly with the tailwind of the currently positive economic data.

Author: Philipp Lichterbeck (Rio de Janeiro)

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The original of this article “Brazil is drifting in a dangerous direction” comes from Deutsche Welle.