Brazil's Lower House will be considering a major pre-election package sponsored by the administration of President Jair Bolsonaro which on Thursday was approved in the Senate with an overwhelming majority.
The measures are seen as a crucial pillar of president Bolsonaro's re-election campaign, and several conservative parties that support his bid, and are based on the argument that the energy price spike is a result of exceptional circumstances, the Ukraine war, and thus is interpreted a legal justification for overriding a constitutional spending cap.
The package includes a 1,000 reais (US$ 192.38) aid for self-employed truckers, a key Bolsonaro constituency. It also increases by 50% the amount paid in the Auxilio Brasil social welfare program benefitting millions, and increases the cooking gas voucher.
At the last minute, government-backed senators managed to include in the proposal two more measures, an aid targeting taxi drivers and to grant more funding to an existing food security program.
The two latest benefits will together cost an additional 2.5 billion reais, senators said, bringing the cost of the whole proposal to around 40 billion reais (some US$ 7.6bn).
Meanwhile Bolsonaro's main competitor and leading in public opinion polls, former president Lula da Silva said that if elected next October, he will only comply one four year mandate, with no reelection.
Lula was first elected in 2002 and, despite repeatedly speaking against reelection bids, he secured another term four years later, but in 2010, he refused to seek a third term despite pressure from many lawmakers who wanted to change Brazil’s constitution to give him that opportunity.
Bolsonaro campaigning in 2018 hinted he would serve only one term, saying he opposed reelection. However speaking to Fox News in an interview aired Thursday night, the right wing leader said the left “will never leave power” if Lula da Silva wins in October.
“And then this country will follow the footsteps of Venezuela, Argentina, Chile and Colombia,” Bolsonaro said, listing nations where leftist or non establishment candidates have won the presidency recently. “Brazil could become another wagon in that train.”
Bolsonaro also hinted he might not accept results if he loses. Military leaders close to the president have insisted without offering proof that there are flaws in Brazil's electronic voting system.
Lula da Silva said questioning elections is not a military task. “It is the electoral authority that takes care of the electronic voting system. It is our society that oversees it,” he insisted, trying to avoid voicing opinions that could displease military leaders during the campaign.
Lula compared Bolsonaro’s statements on Brazil’s voting system to also unfounded questioning by then U.S. President Donald Trump after the 2020 elections. “He wants to do the same thing Trump did. That is, a lie told a thousand times can sound as truth”.