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After Operation Car Wash, Brazil Will Face Most Unpredictable Election in Recent Years

12/19/2017 - 11h25

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BERNARDO MELLO FRANCO
FOLHA COLUMNIST

What will happen in next year's election? Finding an answer to the question hasn't been this hard since 1989, when Brazilians reconquered the right to participate in presidential elections.

The past six disputes were marked by the PT-PSDB polarity. The PSDB won the first two disputes with Fernando Henrique Cardoso. The Workers' Party won the following four with Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff.

It seems unlikely that the coin toss will repeat itself, the main reason being Operation Car Wash (Lava Jato), which has shaken the political system to its core, casting a cloud of uncertainty over the future of the two parties.

The polls show former president Lula with a sizeable lead over his opponents, although, if sentenced, he may have to drop out of the race.

When it comes to the PSDB, the issue comes down to a lack of support. Allies of São Paulo governor Geraldo Alckmin, who appears in fourth in the polls, are divided. Senator Aécio Neves, who had been hoping to be the party's strongest candidate by 2018, was completely torn to shreds by the JBS wiretaps.

So far, the main candidate who has benefitted from the crisis that has affected the PSDB is congressman Jair Bolsonaro. His extremist rhetoric enabled the ultra-right to come out of the closet and it has also propelled him into second place in the polls.

Given the fast-paced rhythm of Brazilian politics, a lot could still change until the presidential tickets are officially registered in August of 2018. But we shouldn't get too desperate about predicting the future. As former minister Pedro Malan already taught us, in Brazil, even the past is unpredictable.

Translated by THOMAS MATHEWSON

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