Brazilians will choose their next president on 26 October in a showdown between incumbent Dilma Rousseff from the left-leaning Workers’ Party and Aécio Neves, the pro-business candidate from the centre-right PSDB. And what an election it’s been so far – I would say the most unpredictable since Brazil’s re-democratisation – and in many ways it has been deeply divisive.
Those who are against one candidate are really against and vice versa. I’m not going to pretend that I don’t have a favourite (it's Dilma) and sometimes I catch myself preaching about how she is so much better than other peoples’ choices. Let’s not kid ourselves: people do not always vote rationally. But I do try to keep my tone civilised unlike some, who appear to be becoming quite radicalised by the election. The latter is not a very common occurrence but has been on the rise with the advent of social media. It is wonderful that voters can connect and get more interested in politics but it is also now much easier to spread rumours or to give a voice to all-out lies. It hurts to see people posting childish attacks and cheap generalisations about the candidates.
I may be a Brazilian living abroad but I can tell you that my friends living here in the UK have been polarised by the election in the same way. There are divides among my family back in Brazil, too. I checked with both my grandmas to see who they would vote for and one of them is supporting Dilma but the other is in favour of environmentalist Marina Silva. And, yes, both grandmas had very bad things to say about rival candidates. One of them said Dilma might destroy the country and the other had some issues regarding Marina’s inexperience. I like the fact that my grandmas are still passionate about politics but I’m not sure that it really will cause the apocalypse if someone’s candidate doesn’t win.
Sometimes I think that I should retreat to somewhere isolated and just come back when all of this election fever has passed but I’m too excited to stop paying attention. Perhaps for the sake of the rest of the country’s wellbeing, though, my fellow Brazilians and I should try to calm down until the big day arrives – maybe just a little.
Fernando Augusto Pacheco is a researcher for Monocle 24.