Michelle Bolsonaro affirms that her husband, Jair Bolsonaro, “is chosen by God”, sent to save Brazil and help women. The once discreet companion has gained prominence in the campaign to retain evangelicals and take on the difficult task of attracting the female vote.
Until recently, Bolsonaro’s wife, a fervent evangelical, was credited with quiet influence in government, most notably in the appointment of a Presbyterian minister as education minister and the first evangelical justice on the supreme court.
Presented by Bolsonaro as “the most important person” at an event in Juiz de Fora, the first lady harangued her followers, praising God and attacking the “enemies” of the government, arousing the euphoria of the attendees.
Michelle sends the message that the president is “a conservative family man” and a “trustworthy” candidate
In July, in another intervention in Rio de Janeiro, Michelle described Bolsonaro as “chosen by God” to save Brazil and defended that her husband was the “president who sanctioned the most laws to protect women”, for example, with improvements in health.
Women are the majority (53%) among the more than 156 million Brazilian voters, which the October 2 they decide whether to re-elect the former Army captain or if the left returns to power at the hands of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silvafavorite in the polls.
According to the most recent survey by the Datafolha institute published on Thursday, Bolsonaro is second, with 33% of the voting intentions compared to 45% for Lula. The gap is even greater among only women (29% vs 46%).
“She has the role” of making Bolsonaro “more attractive among women,” says Sergio Praça, a political analyst at the Getulio Vargas Foundation.
To Bolsonaro, who he usually uses informal language and utters insults, he is rained down with signs of machismo. Just last week she took over the Brazilian patriotic celebrations with allusions to his alleged virile power.
According to analysts, the voters also reproach him the lack of policies to counteract the disproportionate effect on women of the economic crisis consequent to the covid pandemic, which killed 680,000 people in Brazil.
But Michelle sends the message that the president is “a conservative family man” and a “reliable” candidate, says Carolina Botelho, a researcher in political communication and public opinion at the University of the State of Rio Janeiro.
Her growing prominence was even noted by the electoral authorities, who reprimanded her for exceeding the time allotted to the candidate’s allies in television ads.
Two weeks from the first round, the inclusion of Michelle, however, is insufficient: Bolsonaro has hardly improved in the polls on the female electorate.
Michelle “could have reinforced [el voto de las mujeres] who were already with the president but did not manage to bring those who were against closer”, says Botelho and adds that the president’s wife “speaks well with a fanatic public, but not with the rest of the population”.
With God on your side
The first lady’s appearances also seek to strengthen the rapprochement between Bolsonaro, a Catholic, and evangelical voters, attracted by his defense of the “traditional” family.
Michelle has a history of social work in churches and a close relationship with pastors and leaders of the evangelical bloc in Congress.
“Its main force is the evangelical electorate,” says Adriano Laureno, a political analyst at the consultancy firm Prospectiva. Even the way he speaks “is very much like that of the shepherds” with constant allusions to God and notions such as good and evilhe assures.
Since the beginning of the campaign, Bolsonaro has extended his advantage and currently has 49% of the voting intentions among evangelical voters, compared to 32% for Lula, according to Datafolha.
According to estimates, almost a third of the Brazilian population is evangelical and its leaders calculate that they will be the majority in a decade.
In addition, polls show that the majority of voters believe that politics and religion should go hand in hand. Something that Michelle takes into account in her interventions, repeating her husband’s motto, “Brazil above all, God above all.”