Presidential election in Brazil: Bolsonaro is on Lula’s heels, exciting second round in sight

Presidential election in Brazil: Bolsonaro is on Lula’s heels, exciting second round in sight

Leftist ex-President Lula won the first round of Brazil’s elections on Sunday by a much narrower margin than polls predicted for incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro, pointing to a hotly contested Oct. 30 runoff.

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva received 48.4% of the vote versus 43.2% for Bolsonaro, after near-final but still partial results, while benchmark institute Datafolha’s latest poll on Saturday night put a 14-point lead for the left-wing ex- President revealed Saturday night.

“We defeated the lies” of the polls, said the far-right president, who said he was optimistic about playing “the second half” of the presidential election.

A footballing metaphor on Lula’s side: “This is just overtime. I can tell you that we will win this election,” assured the ex-president (2003-2010).

“The fight goes on until the ultimate victory,” said the 76-year-old ex-steelworker, who admitted he had hoped for a first-round win and looked dejected after the result was announced.

– “Uncertainty” –

“It’s a surprise, Bolsonaro got more votes than we expected, especially in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, the two most important states in the country,” Paulo Calmon, political scientist at AFP, told AFP from the University of Brasília.

“In the second round, the race for the presidency remains open and promises to be hotly contested. Bolsonaro still has every chance of being re-elected,” he added.

Brazilians punished the 67-year-old outgoing president less than expected for his Covid denial (685,000 dead), the economic crisis in a country where more than 30 million people are suffering from hunger and the crises that have interrupted his entire mandate.

Until October 30, the populist leader will have the opportunity to mobilize his troops on the streets and find new momentum.

“It adds to the uncertainty,” Georgetown University’s Michael Shifter told AFP.

– Victory of “Bolsonarism” –

In addition, many Bolsonarist candidates, including former government ministers, have been elected to Congress.

For example, the very controversial Ricardo Salles, who was suspected of having been involved in a timber smuggling network from Amazonia when he was Environment Minister, was given a seat as a deputy.

Claudio Castro, an ally of the head of state in Rio de Janeiro, was re-elected governor in the first round.

“It was Bolsonarianism that won that first round,” summarizes Bruna Santos of the Brazil Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington.

“We will have a second round in an extremely polarized environment and the voters of Simone Tebet (centre right, 4% of the vote) and Ciro Gomes (centre left, 3%), almost 8 million people, will decide who is next will be . President,” she added.

In the Lulist camp, Viviane Laureano da Silva, a 36-year-old civil servant, remained confident: “The campaign will be difficult, but Lula will win in the second round,” she told AFP in Rio.

In Sao Paulo, José Antonio Benedetto, 63, was disappointed: “Bolsonaro’s result surprised us, they did better than us. I don’t know what’s happening in Brazil, almost half of our population is sick and only Lula can our people treat.” “vaccinate them”.

– “Democratic Maturity” –

Lula is contesting his sixth presidential election, 12 years after leaving power, with a stratospheric popularity rating (87%).

But he is struggling to shake off the image of corruption that has stuck with him since the major Lavage Express scandal, which earned him 18 months in prison before his convictions were overturned or handed down.

Throughout the day, Brazilians had rushed en masse to elect their president, but also the deputies, a third of the senators and the governors of the 27 states with long lines.

The election, to which 156 million voters were called, passed without violence and major incidents in the largest country in Latin America. Bolsonaro had repeatedly threatened not to recognize the results of the elections, and unrest was feared.

“Brazilian society has shown great democratic maturity,” said the president of the Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) after the results were announced.

“We congratulate the Brazilian people and the country’s institutions on the success of the first ballot,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken responded on Twitter, saying he was “confident that the second ballot will take place in the same peaceful spirit”.

More than 500,000 members of the security forces were mobilized to ensure security for the election, which was held in the presence of dozens of foreign observers.


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