Music, cheering, noise, chaos and above all – dancing.
There’s nothing like going the Brazilian electoral route.
Magnificent is the only word I can think of.
We join Lula da Silva supporters in Sao Bernardo do Campo, a hostel town on the edge of Sao Paulo.
The massive sound system played Lula’s favorite national anthems, and people danced, cheered, and sang along.
Thousands of people have come to meet the man they see as a savior since right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro.
Lula, a former president, is bidding to promote a remarkable return to the top of the political ladder.
Arrested in 2018 on corruption charges, then deposed, he has always been the most popular political leader in the world with approval ratings in the 80-90% range during his time in office since 2015. 2003 to 2011.
Many thought he could hold the presidency in the first round last Sunday, but he didn’t.
Worse for both Lula and his party, however, President Bolsonaro has confused the polls and close the gap with some points.
Now things will play out in the days leading up to a decisive second round on October 30.
Despite that excitement on the street, Lula’s team was still shocked by how well the president scored. But those we spoke to in the crowd said they still trust their men.
Maria Francisca Neves, 61, said: “We will fight for him. I am fighting”.
Maria had traveled from the Jardim Limpoo slum, where she lived. She is unemployed and says she and many others are struggling to survive.
“We want them to fight for us, so that we can eat meat again, to have a full table of food, so that we can have a milkshake in the morning and be able to feed our children.” , to be able to go to university…”
“We are in a battle, and we will win. Lula will get there, I have faith in God, I thank God!” she added passionately.
Another fan, Erivan Paulino de Souza, said he would have liked Lula to have won in the first round to end the tension.
“But everything we achieve in life is through fighting – we go and conquer, nothing has ever been easy for us,” he explains.
“This is not the first election that has gone to the second round, and so we will fight to the end.”
They all waited in the scorching heat for hours when he finally emerged from the side door of the union building on the street where he was arrested in 2018.
He was helped onto the back of a truck, along with politicians from his Workers’ Party.
And so began a chaotic convoy through the streets of the town.
It’s Lula’s first time back in the campaign since he failed that first round, and they love it.
The streets were packed with supporters, waving flags and dancing. Many people try to touch Lula or at least to get his attention.
A huge cheer broke out as the soon-to-be president began photographing the crowd with professional cameras.
Almost certainly a move to emphasize his basic campaign message that he is for everyone and a part of everyone.
He’s certainly old and not the energetic president he used to be, but he still manages to embody the ‘people’s man’ that has been popular for so long.
The real question, however, is whether his politics can appeal to an already horribly divided electorate.
Followed by thousands of people, we watched Lula, her entourage and political colleagues cross the streets.
Shoppers and store owners were watching as the noisy parade made its way to a nearby square.
Most raise their hands in the air with their thumbs and index fingers in an L shape.
They say L is for Lula, and L is for love.
As the caravan reached the square, the 76-year-old addressed the crowd, promising not to give up and warning against the spread of misinformation.
“You know that our opponent’s specialty is lying, seven or eight times a day through fake news, via zap (WhatsApp), through any other way to talk to people.
He said: “In the next 24 days, you have to be alert, to know the difference between real and fake.
Presidential elections are usually won by motivated candidates.
In fact, President Bolsonaro captured that dynamic as he drew close to his opponent.
Lula needs new motivation right now. And he and his team hope that this is the beginning.