women voters

How Brazil’s first lady is playing a role in the fight for the evangelical vote in the presidential election 

Evangelicals now make up a third of the population of Brazil. And their votes could be decisive in this weekend's tight presidential election. Michelle Bolsonaro, wife of the incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro, is doing her part to get out the vote — especially among women. 

The World

Hundreds of women turned out for a rally in support of incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro at the More of Christ church in Florianopolis, Brazil, ahead of the presidential this weekend.

Michael Fox/The World

Hundreds of women crowd into the packed open hall of the More of Christ church in Florianopolis, Brazil, in a rally ahead of this Sunday’s presidential election.

They’re wearing yellow and green — the colors of Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, whose wife, the first lady, Michelle Bolsonaro, is here to address the crowd.

The first lady has been traveling with an entourage of allied congresswomen and female politicians. She’s met with thousands of women in each city who praise Jair Bolsonaro’s fight for so-called conservative family values.

“We are at war,” Michelle Bolsonaro said from onstage. “A war of good versus evil. We will say no to abortion. No to the legalization of drugs. No to gender ideology.”

Evangelicals now make up a third of the population of Brazil. And their votes could be decisive in this weekend's tight presidential election. Michelle Bolsonaro, wife of the incumbent president Jair Bolsonaro, is playing a role in bringing out evangelical voters.

“We came from far away,” said supporter Rosana Bauer, who wore a huge, Brazilian flag draped around her body. “We’re here for Bolsonaro and [the first lady] Michelle. Michelle is a marvelous woman. A religious woman. And we are here to fill her with love and strength, because we’re going to win this election.”

According to the latest polls, Jair Bolsonaro sits seven points behind former leftist President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

women file into church

Hundreds of women attended a rally in support of incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro at More of Christ church in Florianopolis, Brazil, in a rally ahead of this Sunday’s presidential election.

Credit:

Michael Fox/The World

But the women in the audience here, where a screen onstage says  “Women with Bolsonaro,” maintain that the polls have been wrong about Jair Bolsonaro before.

“This is a revolution,” said 30-year-old Suzane Siqueira, outside the church. “Like it or not, this is a spiritual war. Good versus evil. I really believe that. And that’s why we’re here for Bolsonaro.”

That religious language has been a key strategy for Jair Bolsonaro to win over the faithful, despite financial hard times, rising inflation and hunger. And as the campaigns have intensified ahead of this weekend’s vote, Michelle Bolsonaro has become a shining ambassador of Jair Bolsonaro’s message.

“Michelle Bolsonaro is really important,” said political scientist Vinicius do Valle. “Her discourse has been, ‘Don’t look at my husband. Look at me. You will be voting for me and what I represent.’ This has been the message at many churches here.”

Pentecostal pastors across Brazil have attacked former president Lula and urged their congregations to back Jair Bolsonaro in this weekend’s elections. The political campaigning from the pulpit has been constant in recent months. It's also led some people to leave their churches.

packed rally

Evangelicals now make up a third of the population of Brazil. And their votes could be decisive in this weekend's tight presidential election. Michelle Bolsonaro, wife of the incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro, is playing a role in bringing out evangelical voters — especially women. Hundreds attended a rally where Michelle Bolsonaro spoke on behalf of her husband.

Credit:

Michael Fox/The World

Earlier this month, Indigenous leader Jeane Morepe'i spoke to The World from the Satire-Mawe neighborhood on the outskirts of Manaus. She talked about her aunt, Francinete Lima, who lives in a hillside cinderblock home.

“She left her prayer circle because instead of talking about Jesus, they were only discussing politics,” Morepe'i said.

Two-thirds of evangelicals back Jair Bolsonaro compared with less than a third for former president Lula, according to a recent poll. But Lula has been trying to win over the faithful.

Last week, he met with evangelical leaders in São Paulo.

women outside church

According to the latest polls, Jair Bolsonaro sits seven points behind former leftist President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. His wife, the first lady, Michelle Bolsonaro, is doing her part to get out the vote — especially among women. 

Credit:

Michael Fox/The World 

There, he delivered a letter to the evangelical community responding to the disinformation campaign against him, which accused him of wanting to close churches and legalize abortion and pedophilia.

“For me, family is sacred,” he told them.

He said he was personally against abortion, and called the fake news attacks on him a “sad scandal” that faith was being used for electoral means.

The evangelical vote will be key in this weekend’s election. Evangelicals now make up just less than a third of Brazilians. Regardless of the outcome of the presidential vote, it’s a sign of the power of evangelicals in Brazil, which will likely only grow in the coming years.

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