Bolsonaro could lose, which sounds too good to be true.
Jair Bolsonaro said in mid-September, "If it's God's will, I'll keep going." "If it's not, I'll take off the presidential sash and leave office."
It sounds too good to be real. After all, Mr. Bolsonaro has spent most of the year casting doubt on the election process and making it seem like he is getting ready to reject the results. Worryingly, the military wants to count the votes at the same time. The air is full of danger: 67% of Brazilians are afraid of political violence, and some of them may not even vote (a big deal in a country where voting is mandatory). Everyone is talking about a coup.
In the midst of all this uncertainty, there is one fact to hold on to: Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil's leftist former president, is ahead in the polls, with 50 percent of intended votes to Mr. Bolsonaro's 36 percent. Mr. da Silva is back to finish the job he started four years ago. He was kicked out of politics on charges of corruption and money laundering that turned out to be at best questionable from a legal standpoint and at worst politically motivated. All signs point to him winning. If he doesn't get more than 50 percent of the vote on Sunday, he will win in the second round on Oct. 30.
The people of Brazil are holding their breath. The next few weeks could be the end of a dark time led by one of the worst leaders in our country's history, or they could be the start of even more disaster and despair. All of this is a lot to take in. I've decided to sleep more and clean the house more. The curtains have never been so clean (they were originally beige). Still, no matter what I do to keep myself busy, I can't shake the feeling that something bad might happen.
At first glance, everything seems fine. If someone from outside the country walked through the streets, they wouldn't think that a presidential election is coming up. When I look out the window, I see that the Brazilian flags that had become a sign of support for Mr. Bolsonaro have been taken down from the other buildings. It could be a preemptive response to defeat, or it could be the quiet before the storm. Even my friends and family don't talk much about the election. The lines were drawn in 2018 and haven't changed much since.
Even so, there is still a lot of support for democracy in this country, with 75% of people saying it is better than any other form of government. From the start, Mr. da Silva has been trying to take advantage of how people feel about Mr. Bolsonaro and create a broad front against him. Geraldo Alckmin, a former opponent from the center-right, was chosen as his running mate. He worked hard to win over business leaders and got support from well-known centrists. In this friendly atmosphere, Ciro Gomes supporters, who make up about 6 percent of the vote in polls right now, may even vote for the former president. If that happens, Mr. Bolsonaro will be beaten without a doubt.
Even though this is a great thing to look forward to, it doesn't do much to calm the nation's anxiety. It's impossible not to think about what could happen. There is a scary chance that the polls are wrong and Mr. Bolsonaro will win. If the polls are right, Mr. Bolsonaro could refuse to admit that he lost and even start a coup. If my Twitter feed is any indication, each day now seems to last as long as a day on Venus, which is about 5,832 hours.
There's just too much on the line. For one, Mr. Bolsonaro has been hard on the democratic process. Another thing is the future of our court system. There are 11 seats on the Supreme Court, and just next year, two of them will be open. If Mr. Bolsonaro were in charge, he would definitely choose hard-right justices like he did with his last two picks. It's possible that the judiciary will be changed like Trump did.
The environment is another issue. So far this year, there have been more forest fires in the Brazilian Amazon than there were in the whole of 2021, which was bad enough. Since the beginning of September, several states in Brazil have been covered by thick clouds of smoke. Under Mr. Bolsonaro's leadership, more trees have been cut down, environmental agencies have been shut down, and the number of deaths of Indigenous people has gone up. There is no time like the present to change these terrible environmental policies.
Also, a new government could do something about the terrible situation of the 33 million people who don't have enough food and are hungry, not to mention the 62.9 million people (or 29% of the population) who live below the poverty line. It could also reduce the number of guns on the streets, which, under Mr. Bolsonaro's watch, has risen to 1.9 million, which is a scary number. And, finally, Brazilians might be able to start getting over the trauma of 685,000 people dying in Covid-19.
But before any of that can happen, the first step is to get Jair Bolsonaro to retire. Then we'll be able to start breathing again.