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Brazil: Lula and Bolsonaro in "religious war" to seduce the electorate

The Brazilian press does not hesitate to evoke a "religious war" between the two Catholic finalists who hate each other.

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Brazil: Lula and Bolsonaro in "religious war" to seduce the electorate

The Brazilian press does not hesitate to evoke a "religious war" between the two Catholic finalists who hate each other.

In Brazil, where the 215 million inhabitants are mainly Catholics and a third belong to evangelical Protestant churches, 59% of people questioned by the Datafolha institute believe that the religious question is decisive in their choice.

Leandro Consentino, a political scientist at the private university, told AFP that "bringing the debate to the religious field and traditions makes it easier to increase the rejection suffered by the adversary from voters, with questions which appeal to the emotional.

- "The good and the bad" -

Jair Bolsonaro, 67, ahead in voting intentions (52% against 48%), enjoys broad support among evangelicals, an asset he exploited during his campaign.

"The left, communism has no commitment to life, it does not respect us," the far-right president recently launched in a crowded evangelical temple in Sao Paulo. "I know you (Lord, editor's note) will give us victory on October 30," he said.

President Bolsonaro, originally a Catholic but who was baptized in 2016 in Israel in the waters of the Jordan by a famous evangelical pastor, brings together 65% of the evangelical electorate, against 31% for Lula.

This support he owes to his tireless defense of the traditional family and the Bible or to the appointment of a "terribly evangelical" judge to the Supreme Court of Brazil.

In his electoral crusade, he was also able to count on his wife Michelle. The devout evangelical traveled the country to build support from churches, arguing that this election campaign was a battle between "good and evil" and accusing Lula of being "the devil".

Not to mention the support of influential conservative pastors, like Silas Malafaia and his 10 million followers on social networks repeating that Lula is a "liar" and an "alcoholic".

Jair Bolsonaro also flattered the Catholic electorate, which is in favor of him at 37% (against 57% for Lula), although this balance is less marked in the voting booth, according to experts.

In four days, the far-right president traveled to the state of Para (north) and Sao Paulo to participate in the procession of Christ of Nazareth and the cult of Our Lady of Aparecida, the patron saint. of Brazil, two of the largest Catholic holidays in the country.

- "Sacred family" -

Lula, a former trade unionist metalworker, 77 years old on Thursday, tried at the end of the campaign to reach out to evangelicals and to deny the tenacious rumor launched by Bolsonarists according to which he was going to close the churches if he was elected.

"For me, the family is sacred," said the former president (2003-2010) last week during a meeting with evangelical leaders, to whom he delivered a letter in which he pledged to "defend freedom of worship" and repeats that he is "personally against abortion", only authorized under certain exceptional conditions in Brazil.

He also met more progressive pastors and attended a ceremony with one in Sao Paulo. With his eyes closed, his hands clasped and his head bowed to the ground, he listened to a black pastor praise him for not using "religious artifice to deceive people".

The omnipresent religious theme in the debates could benefit Jair Bolsonaro during this second round, estimates Adriano Laureno, an analyst for the consultants Prospectiva.

"He took the campaign to his side. If they were discussing the economy, Lula would probably be in a more comfortable situation," he says.

The political use of religion, however, ended up infuriating the National Bishops' Conference of Brazil, which condemned, without quoting anyone, "the exploitation of faith as a means of garnering votes".

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