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Knowing Left from Right: Ideological Thinking in the 2002 and 2006 Brazilian Presidential Elections
Unformatted Document Text:  survey took place in June and August of 2002, prior to the first round election of that year’s presidential campaign. In the first round, the candidate from the leftist Worker’s Party (the PT), Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, known universally simply as Lula, took first place. He was followed by José Serra from the incumbent centrist party PSDB. The survey’s third wave occurred in October, between the first round and the second round runoff election, which Lula won. Lula’s second round win and the peaceful transition of power to a leftist president were considered turning points in the consolidation of Brazilian democracy. The events were especially significant given the repression of leftists in the 1964-1988 military regime and the fact that opposition to a leftist, labor-oriented president had sparked the 1964 coup. Lula’s victory in 2002 is thus an early instance of what a few years later would be called the regional “left turn.” We might expect this heightened ideological atmosphere to reflect in public opinion of the time. Wave 4 of the survey occurred in 2004, two years into Lula’s term. By this time, Lula was recognized, perhaps surprisingly, as an ideologically moderate president. True, he had attempted to maintain links to civil society organizations developed in his years as a labor leader and had promoted new social programs which were quite controversial, on both the right and left . But he had also continued most of the economic policies of the previous administration . Waves 5 and 6 took place in August and October of 2006, i.e. at the beginning and end of the presidential election campaign of that year. In the first round, Lula’s 48 percent of the vote sent the election into a second round runoff, which he won. Though Lula was arguably a centrist by the time of the 2006 campaign, in the second round campaign he stressed his leftist credentials and worked to portray his opponent, Geraldo Alckmin, as too far to the right . This suggests that the 2006 campaign may, as in 2002, have activated voters’ ideologies and have led to heightened levels of ideological thinking. 2

Authors: Smith, Amy.
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survey took place in June and August of 2002, prior to the first round election of that year’s
presidential campaign. In the first round, the candidate from the leftist Worker’s Party (the PT),
Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, known universally simply as Lula, took first place. He was followed
by José Serra from the incumbent centrist party PSDB. The survey’s third wave occurred in
October, between the first round and the second round runoff election, which Lula won. Lula’s
second round win and the peaceful transition of power to a leftist president were considered
turning points in the consolidation of Brazilian democracy. The events were especially
significant given the repression of leftists in the 1964-1988 military regime and the fact that
opposition to a leftist, labor-oriented president had sparked the 1964 coup. Lula’s victory in
2002 is thus an early instance of what a few years later would be called the regional “left turn.”
We might expect this heightened ideological atmosphere to reflect in public opinion of the time.
Wave 4 of the survey occurred in 2004, two years into Lula’s term. By this time, Lula
was recognized, perhaps surprisingly, as an ideologically moderate president. True, he had
attempted to maintain links to civil society organizations developed in his years as a labor leader
and had promoted new social programs which were quite controversial, on both the right and left
. But he had also continued most of the economic policies of the previous administration .
Waves 5 and 6 took place in August and October of 2006, i.e. at the beginning and end of
the presidential election campaign of that year. In the first round, Lula’s 48 percent of the vote
sent the election into a second round runoff, which he won. Though Lula was arguably a centrist
by the time of the 2006 campaign, in the second round campaign he stressed his leftist
credentials and worked to portray his opponent, Geraldo Alckmin, as too far to the right . This
suggests that the 2006 campaign may, as in 2002, have activated voters’ ideologies and have led
to heightened levels of ideological thinking.
2


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