A Retrospective Discussion about why Brazil’s poor voted for Lula.

Essas aulas de inglês são para alunos intermediários e avançados de inglês como segunda língua. Eles incluem “Ler”, “Ouvir” e “Escrever”. Basta seguir a lição respondendo às perguntas à medida que as encontra.

Todas as vagas em negrito devem ser traduzidas para seu próprio idioma para ajudar na compreensão do novo vocabulário.

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Now that the election in Brazil is over and people appear to be getting on with their lives I thought it was time to discuss why the middle classes generally voted for Bolsonaro (Conservative) and why Brazil’s poor generally voted for Lula (socialist). Please bear in mind that Steve has no preference regarding Brazilian politics and that this and the next lesson about Bolsonaro are simply about teaching the vocabulary of English.


Brazilians went to the polls a few weeks ago to elect their next president, in a run-off  between left-wing former President Lula da Silva and right-wing incumbent Jair Bolsonaro.

Poverty was a huge election issue. Because of Covid and the cost of living crisis, a lot of Brazilians are struggling financially.

North-eastern Brazil was particularly hard hit during the pandemic, and in the state of Ceará, many believe Lula is the man with the answer to their problems.


Watch the short BBC video below and then answer the questions below.


  1. What does the verb ‘to struggle’ mean?
  2. What does it mean, ‘to swing an election’?
  3. ‘A crucial battleground state’ . What does this mean?
  4. At about 1:30 the guy being intervied used a term in Portuguese that meant ‘a frenzy’ in English. What is a frenzy?
  5. ‘To remember FONDLY.  What does ‘fondly’ mean?


Lula’s victory was dependent on mobilising Brazil’s poor and the depoliticised masses.

Despite Lula leading in the first round of Brazil’s elections, his victory depended on whether he and his allies could mobilise amongst the poor and those masses depoliticised by the pernicious regime of Bolsonaro.

The results of the first round of the Brazilian elections were a shock, with leftist candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva only just over 5% ahead of the extreme right incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro and falling short of the 50% plus, necessary to win on the first round.

A first round victory had been the hope and based on the polls, the expectation, of all those wanting an end to a regime that had produced deep economic crisis, social devastation – with 33 million Brazilians facing starvation – and irreversible environmental destruction, especially in the Amazon.


Supporters of Lula had, it turned out, seriously under-estimated Bolsonarism. Something that commentator Valerio Arcary described as “the most serious mistake ever made by the Brazilian left.”

Three months before of the election, 51% of Brazilian were reported as saying that Bolsonaro was doing a “terrible job”. But such a poll said nothing of the way that in the run up to the pole his appeal to large swathes of the population grew through spending millions of Real to win votes, including paying 600 Real ($115.94) per month to the poorest families and paying for a mass reduction of fuel.

This was a strategy Bolsonaro continued to pursue following the first-round of the election. He then announced that the Federal Savings Bank, the largest government-owned financial institution in Latin America, would cancel the debts of around four million people.


At the same time as building a base through creating a mass economic vested interest in his continued Presidency, Bolsonaro’s campaign used the massive presence that, imitating Trump, he and his base had built up on social media to destroy the loyalty that millions of working-class people, rural and urban, felt for Lula.

The line of attack was potent in the face of the growing influence of religious evangelism. Lula is presented as a major threat to so-called Christian family values. On top of this they depicted him as a persecutor of Christians, intent on closing churches, as well as a thief backed by major drug mafias.

A sign of the seriousness of these social media campaigns is that Brazil’s electoral justice has launched a misinformation alert system and has worked closely with the main social media platforms to remove fake content.

This increased polarisation had in reality generated violence, and with it fear. Prominent Lula supporters have been killed. Others have been victims of racism and physical abuse.


Amongst Lula’s base there was an under-estimation of Bolsonarism in all its forms, from the far-right figure’s close allies, to his street level zealots. There is also an over reliance on the continued political potency of memories of Lula’s past successes. His campaign messages have tended to look backwards and he has not made a single policy commitment throughout his campaign.

Moreover, Lula’s tactics had focused inwards to the political institutions, where his priority has been to build a broad alliance on the basis of a minimal platform of simply getting rid of Bolsonaro. Geraldo Alckmin, who was once Lula’s opponent, was chosen as a running mate mainly on the grounds that he is now opposed to Bolsonaro, for example.

‘The left’ in Brazil, however, now takes multiple forms. Lula’s party the Partido Trabaladores (PT) no longer has the monopoly on working-class political representation – a dominance it gained through its leadership of the opposition to the dictatorship. Since 2004, an activist radical left party, Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL) has been emphasising popular mobilisation. PSOL was formed after the expulsion of key left-wing members of Congress who voted against Lula’s pension reform, and has since attracted other movement leaders, most notably Guilherme Boulos, the modest and popular leader of Brazil’s homeless movement (MTST).


Boulos and the PSOL recognised, in a way, what Lula’s campaign did not: that Bolsonaro was not a freak anomaly, it was the result of the instability that followed the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff. This meant that they did not assume that underneath this institutional crisis the consciousness of the masses had somehow remained the same: loyal to Lula and the PT but lacking the opportunity, until now, to vote for them.

Indeed, the rootedness of Boulos and many PSOL activists mean that they were aware of a deeper problem of depoliticisation. The necessities of the struggle for houses – one that could not be won through institutional deals – led Boulos, in his campaign to be a Deputy, to reach out to the homeless, not simply for their votes but to contribute to their politicisation through building a self-organised movement. Through this, they gained a sense of their own agency – both potent antidotes to the appeal of a reactionary demagogue like Bolsonaro. Unsurprisingly, Boulos won overwhelmingly against the son of Bolsonaro (Eduardo Bolsonaro) and joined the growing ranks of left deputies in the Congress.


This piece of writing is simply based on your opinion. As far as the English is concerened there are no right or wrong answers. Just your opinion. The only thing I am interested in is your English. Below the question are three videos that I suggest you watch to help you with the grammar required in this writing exercise.

In 150 words give your personal opinion about how you see the future of Brazil developing post-election.


In your writing use one example of the three grammar concepts below. Watch the videos before starting.

  1. Present Perfect Progressive
  2. Past Perfect Progressive
  3. Future Perfect Progressive

There are three videos below to help you remember the differences.



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