Anitta Takes a Stand on Brazil’s Presidential Election – And Her Influence Could Help Sway Voters

Anitta Takes a Stand on Brazil’s Presidential Election – And Her Influence Could Help Sway Voters thumbnail

With fewer than three months to go before the next presidential elections in her country, megastar Anitta has officially declared her support for Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a left-wing former Brazilian president who is leading in the polls against far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro.

Anitta stated her position on Twitter on Monday (July 11), two days after a leftist official supporting da Silva, the Workers’ Party candidate who is better known as Lula, was brutally murdered at his own birthday party by a Bolsonaro supporter in the state of Paraná in the country’s south.

“If there had been no murder involved … I’d say that the stupidity of these people is almost funny. But it’s not. It’s frightening,” Anitta tweeted, referencing Bolsonaro supporters.

“I’m not a Worker’s Party supporter, and I have never been one,” she added in a separate tweet, which generated over 32,000 retweets and more than 347,000 likes. “But, this year, I’m with Lula, and whoever wants my help to make him blow up on the Internet, on Tik Tok, on Twitter, on Instagram, just ask me. If what you are asking is not against electoral law, I will do it.”

With over 100 million followers on her social media platforms (including 63 million on Instagram), Anitta is arguably the best-known artist from Brazil and ranks among the most-followed in the global music industry – lending real heft to her support of Lula’s candidacy.

Her level of influence reached a new baseline on Tuesday (July 12): Just a day after she took a stand in favor of Lula’s candidacy, the singer was honored by Guinness World Records for becoming the first solo Latin artist – and the first Brazilian act – to reach No. 1 on the Spotify Global chart (with the Spanish-language single “Envolver”).

Anitta – once an artist who shied away from throwing her support behind a specific candidate – could help influence Brazilians who haven’t yet chosen a candidate or consider themselves apolitical, particularly if she recruits other famous names to the cause, says Leila Guimarães, a political and digital marketing specialist from Rio de Janeiro.

“The impact of this movement might get bigger if Anitta’s fellow artists and their fans join her pro-Lula campaign,” Guimarães says.

Anitta has long been a critic of Bolsonaro’s politics on her social media accounts. In one of her previous tweets, she claimed to have spent hours talking to Leonardo DiCaprio on the importance of encouraging 16-year-olds to register to vote in order to defeat the current president. During the pandemic, as she told Billboard earlier this year, the singer immersed herself in learning about Brazilian politics and history and even enlisted friend Gabriela Prioli, a criminal lawyer and political commentator, to broadcast political education classes via Anitta’s Instagram account.

But the homegrown superstar’s open campaigning for Bolsonaro’s strongest opponent is new, and it has stirred reactions from both sides of the political divide in what’s been called the most polarized presidential race in the country in decades.

On Monday, Lula responded to Anitta’s Twitter post by stating, “Let’s ‘involve’ Brazil together!” – a pun on the title of Anitta’s “Envolver” single. Then on Wednesday, he posted a video on the social media platform in which he says, “We will have to fight a lot. But now, I have Anitta supporting me,” while he moved his hips in an allusion to Anitta’s famous “Envolver” dance step.

On the other side of the political spectrum, Bolsonaro supporters have created the hashtag #AnittaApoiaOCrime (“Anitta supports crime”) to criticize the singer’s pro-Lula position, which, according to them, would make her guilty of supporting a corrupt candidate.

The Workers’ Party was engulfed in a massive political scandal starting in 2014 that involved the indictment of dozens of high-level politicians and businesspeople after a widespread investigation alleged that millions of dollars had been kicked back to officials of Petrobras, Brazil’s state-owned oil company, and to politicians mainly from Lula’s party. (The massive scheme came to light while Dilma Rousseff, Lula’s successor and former Chief of Staff, was president.)

Lula, who left office at the end of 2010 as one of the most popular politicians in Brazil’s history, was convicted in 2017 on charges of money laundering and taking bribes from engineering firms in return for awarding public contracts. He was sentenced to nine-and-a-half years in prison and ended up spending 580 days in jail. Brazil’s Supreme Court annulled the convictions in April of 2021, saying the lower federal court where he was tried lacked jurisdiction; the decision made Lula eligible again to run against Bolsonaro.

“Anitta, go get a psychiatrist, you must have a very serious low self-esteem problem. … You don’t value yourself, and now you support a criminal,” Carla Zambelli, a Federal Deputy from São Paulo and fierce Bolsonaro supporter, said on Twitter Monday.

Bolsonaro himself has also commented on Anitta’s support of his political opponent. During a speech in front of journalists on July 14, the president pejoratively commented on the singer’s pro-Lula position and criticized her Instagram livestream on Tuesday, on which she asked Lula to fight for the legalization of cannabis in Brazil.

“I saw Anitta telling Lula: ‘I am giving you this huge support, Lula, come on, legalize weed’ … This is Anitta, who has a strong influence over young people,” said Bolsonaro. He also accused Lula of wanting “to control social media” and said the singer “may be helping elect a guy who wants to take freedom away from you. I am guaranteeing your freedom.”

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