Hailed for reducing poverty and inequality in Brazil, the Bolsa Familia program (PBF) is the largest conditional cash transfer program in the world. Critics, however, have accused President Lula and his party of indirectly ‘buying’ the poor vote through the PBF. This research investigates the relationship between the PBF and the voting patterns of its recipients in the recent elections. Is the PBF an apolitical poverty reduction strategy? Does it influence the formation of political preferences? Based on interviews conducted in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, I focus on the beneficiaries’ own perception of the program, exploring the concepts of “ownership” and “clientelism” in social welfare.