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Lula’s running mate Geraldo Alckmin goes after agro votes

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With less than a fortnight before Brazil goes to the polls to elect its next president, Geraldo Alckmin, the running mate of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has traveled to the country’s Center-West region in a bid to stir up support amongst the agribusiness sector.

Brazil’s powerful farming sector is one of President Jair Bolsonaro’s core constituencies. According to a recent poll by Ipec, Lula and Mr. Bolsonaro are in a statistical tie among voters from the North and Center-West regions combined (Ipec does not isolate either).

But with Lula calling for tactical voting in the hopes of clinching a first-round victory — which polls suggest is within his reach — the former union leader’s more conservative VP nominee has been tasked with speaking to this right-leaning segment of the electorate.

Mr. Alckmin has already taken to social media to defend Lula’s record on supporting the agribusiness sector during his two terms as president and to speak of the importance of new trade agreements to expand the markets available for Brazilian exports.

“The agribusiness sector needs to be developed [further],” the vice-presidential candidate said in a video shared online. “It gave a leap during the Lula government and will give another one now.”

It is understood that Mr. Alckmin will also seek to distance Lula from the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST), a social movement with ties to Lula’s Workers’ Party and on which public opinion is deeply polarized.

While for many Lula supporters, the Landless Workers’ Movement is a champion of social issues, defending land redistribution and sustainable agriculture, the large-scale farming sector largely shares Mr. Bolsonaro’s view of MST members as “terrorists” who encourage the invasion of private land.

“The right to [private] property is in the Constitution, a Constitution that Lula and I helped write,” Mr. Alckmin said. The vice-presidential candidate is due to visit the states of Goiás and Mato Grosso this Wednesday, before traveling on to Rondônia, in the North region, on Thursday.

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