“Voting” districts are a target of contention between Lula and Bolsonaro

With more than 20 million voters, Triangulo Mineiro, Zona da Mata, the Metropolitan Region of Belo Horizonte, all in Minas, Pampa Gaucho and Greater São Paulo are the areas with the greatest chance of swinging the vote.

At least five micro-districts in Brazil became the main point of contention for the re-election of PT Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Jair Bolsonaro in this second round.

In the last four years, these regions have gone against the historical crystallization of voting in the country. In the first round of 2018, Bolsonaro won them, but this year Lula received the most votes. According to experts heard by Estadão, the past elections are atypical. It was then that the anti-corruption agenda supported the incumbent.

Now a lower-income and less radicalized electorate, especially in those metropolitan areas, has turned to the former president out of frustration with Bolsonaro’s government. In Minas, however, there is still a greater identification with the social policies of the Lula governments than with the PA, which also explains the former president’s victory in the state in the first round of the dispute in these elections.

“It is this fluctuation that will decide the elections. It’s one of the most important dynamics,” says political scientist Daniela Constanzo of USP’s Institute for Advanced Studies. As an example, he highlights the changes registered in São Paulo in the first period of this year, in which Lula restored the capital and Bolsonaro led the internal affairs.

Over the past two decades, Brazil’s voting maps show a regional divide, with PT candidates for the Planalto chamber winning majorities in the northeastern communities and popularizing the north. Meanwhile, right-wing names were voted the most in the Midwest, South and Southeast.

In these elections, Minas Gerais acts as a wavering state, which ultimately decides the outcome of the elections. This scenario, albeit to a lesser extent, was repeated in the first round of this year. Now, in the second phase of the campaign, the two candidates are concentrating their activities in the cities of Minas Gerais and São Paulo in an attempt to consolidate or gather votes.


Twenty years ago, in the 2002 election, left-wing and more right-wing voters were still scattered across the nation. Both José Serra (PSDB) and Lula won in a large number of cities in all states and regions of the country. Since the first round of 2006, however, a greater division of Brazilian voters’ votes can be observed by region.


This trend of crystallization of majority votes in the regions becomes clear when analyzing the first round of the last six presidential elections based on Geografia do Voto. The tool, a collaboration between Agência Geocracy and Estadão, has recorded more than 5 billion votes registered at the Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) since 1996.

“There is a model that seems to have been tried and tested and that led the Brazilian elections. It is this pulse of these regions that has characterized this fissure (division) in the country,” says lawyer and geographer Luis Ugeda, one of the people in charge of the Geografia do Voto tool.

According to experts, the spread of anti-petismo and petismo in marzes does not turn into an exclusively regional problem, because polarization nationalizes the dispute. For example, the social policies supported by the Lula administrations and at the center of the PT reforms contributed to a change in the image of the electorate since 2006.

The PT gathered more votes among the poorest, while Bolsonaro won the richest, which is reflected in the visual contrast of the votes in the regions, as well as, for example, in the outskirts of large urban centers. This helps explain the resurgence of five districts “lost” by PA members in 2018.


“What can be observed is that in some social agglomerations with the poorest populations, political leaders who effectively or symbolically embody a social policy focused on this sector receive greater electoral support,” says a political scientist at the Federal University of Bahia. Paulo Fabio Dantas. (UFBA).


Political scientists remind that in 2018, in the context of the “Lava Jato” operation, progress was made in voting against the PA. The anti-political sentiments embodied by Bolsonaro led to victory over Fernando Haddad (PT). The former mayor of Sao Paulo took over from Lula on the eve of the official campaign launch when the former president was jailed in Curitiba.

Now, the relevance of electoral colleges in micro-districts is focusing Lula and Bolsonaro’s speech in the final part of the campaign, Ugeda said, including overlapping agendas. PA and first lady Michelle Bolsonaro, for example, were in the same regions in recent days. “Bolsonaro is territorially aware that it is in these places that he has lost votes and that he has fat to save,” the geographer said.

The president won fewer votes in the Southeast in 2022 than he did four years ago. This is forcing allies to bet on the possibility of winning back voters by focusing on the customs and anti-corruption agenda that dominated the 2018 election. Yesterday, Lula walked between Belo Horizonte and Ribeira da Neves. Bolsonaro, on the other hand, is betting on a reversal of the vote in Sao Paulo, where he has been since Thursday and has an event until today.


Sao Paulo

The president also met with the mayors of the interior, set agendas in the metropolitan region and received Governor Rodrigo García (PSDB) at the Palacio dos Bandeirantes. For experts, the defeat in São Paulo after 28 years in government helps explain the shift in voting in the capital city of São Paulo, which further drained the right-wing vote in the metropolitan region.

“PT is always good to win on the outskirts of Sao Paulo. It lost in Lava Jato in 2018 and was able to restore a disillusioned electorate that accepted corruption,” said Carolina de Paula, a researcher at the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ).

Surveys of voters who bet on Bolsonaro in 2018 and who say they are voting for Lula this year show that the president’s leadership is dealing with the pandemic as a burden to a less conservative electorate. “The left is managing to restore this disillusioned voter, but who was more disillusioned with Bolsonaro’s governance, especially amid the pandemic,” De Paula said.



Apart from Greater São Paulo, the Metropolitan Region of Belo Horizonte, Zona da Mata Mineira and Triangulo Mineira have experienced vote fluctuations since 2018 that have broken the pattern drawn in Minas. Triângulo Mineiro voted in line with Mato Grosso do Sul four years ago, concentrating the largest number of towns where Bolsonaro was favored. This year, however, one can notice more municipalities with a majority of left-wing votes, which gave Lula a victory in the region. The same thing happened in Zona da Mata and Grande BH.


“Minas is a kind of balance. Where you win in Minas, you tend to win national (elections),” said Thiago Silame, a professor at the Federal University of Alfenas and a researcher at the UFMG Center for Legislative Studies.

For him, it is related to the size of the electorate and, at the same time, the heterogeneity related to the state’s currencies. “There’s Minas Bahia, Minas Espirito Santo, Minas Carioca, and there’s also a very São Paulo-influenced Minas. In other words, it reflects Brazil’s socio-economic and cultural diversity.”

In Minas, Bolsonaro’s campaign is betting not only on the conversion of undecideds, but also on the conversion of voters who voted for Lula in the first round and also for Zema. For analysts, the return of former judge Sergio Moro to Bolsonaro’s campaign is also a strategy to restore the Lavatista vote.

There was a similar movement in Rio Grande do Sul, which was also explained by the consolidation of the PA in some municipalities over time, says political scientist Rodrigo González. Lula and Dilma already had significant votes in the state where the PT ruled for two terms.

“If you look at the voting pattern, having a gubernatorial and senatorial candidate helps attract votes for the presidential campaign. These are the regions that, even with weaker votes, should also consider PA entrenchment,” he said. In the first round, Lula had more votes than Bolsonaro in Porto Alegre.

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