BRAZIL: Election officials announced on Sunday that there would be a run-off vote in Brazil’s presidential election after President Jair Bolsonaro’s unexpected victory in the first round ended challenger Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s chances of winning outright.
With 99.8% of the voting machines counted, the Superior Electoral Tribunal reports that Bolsonaro received 43.3 percent of the vote, while his left-wing rival, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, received 48.4 percent.
On October 30, the second round of voting will take place, extending the tense and violent campaign by an extra four weeks.
Several polls indicated that Lula, a leftist who served as president from 2003 to 2010, was ahead of Bolsonaro, a far-right candidate, by 10 to 15 percentage points before the election on Sunday. The considerably closer result dashed hopes of an expeditious conclusion to the most divisive election in the history of the fourth-largest democracy in the world.
Vice President of the Council of the Americas, Eric Farnsworth, said, “He certainly outperformed, and that’s a major surprise. In Brazil, the polls turned out to be false.”
When polls showed him falling short behind Lula in the first round, Bolsonaro questioned them, claiming they failed to reflect the enthusiasm he saw on the campaign trail. The 67-year-old ex-army captain praised the outcome and declared it a victory.
Regarding the pre-election surveys, he told reporters, “We beat the falsehood today.”
“The campaign is now ours… I have complete faith. There are many successful achievements we can point to.”
Political analysts had predicted that Bolsonaro’s support for challenging the election results would decrease if Lula won by a significant margin. However, the election on Sunday, which added another four weeks of tension and violence, gave his campaign new life.
Carlos Melo, a political scientist at Sao Paulo’s Insper business school, claimed that “the extreme right is quite dominant throughout Brazil.” Lula is now less likely to win in the second round. “Bolsonaro will be very strong when he shows up for re-election.”
Lula put a positive spin on the outcome, claiming that it would just delay his win and that he was eager to face up against Bolsonaro in a debate.
He told reporters, “We can compare the Brazil he has established to the one we constructed.”
In his post-election statements, Bolsonaro appeared composed and self-assured as he criticised polling companies for failing to gauge his support.
He told the media, citing considerable gains achieved by his party in Congress following the general election on Sunday, “I want to establish the correct political alliances to win this election.”
Brazil’s far-right also performed well in contests for the lower house, the Senate, and governorships. 19 of the 27 Senate seats that were up for grabs were won by his right-wing supporters.
An Upbeat Mood in Rio
In Rio de Janeiro’s Barra da Tijuca neighbourhood, the mood was upbeat outside Bolsonaro’s home.
Maria Lourdes de Noronha, 63, declared that if Bolsonaro loses, “we will not accept it” and claimed that only fraud could prevent him from winning. She accused her country’s media, reporters, and pollsters of being deceitful, scoundrels, and sleazy.
Despite having a record level of support when he left office 12 years ago, Lula is now despised by many Brazilians due to his conviction for accepting bribes and imprisonment during the most recent election.
After the Supreme Court overturned his conviction, he was given the go-ahead to run for president once more this year, along with nine other contenders from a variety of smaller parties.
After having his bribery charges overturned by the Supreme Court this year, Lula himself served 19 months in prison.
Bolsonaro, a former career politician and self-described outsider, rode a backlash against Lula’s Workers Party to victory in 2018, bringing together disparate elements of Brazil’s right, including evangelical Christians, farmers, and pro-gun activists.
Commercial farmers and illegal miners have benefited from his destruction of environmental and indigenous laws, while his anti-gay and anti-abortion programmes have won over social conservatives.
Since the coronavirus pandemic—which he described as a “small flu” before COVID-19 claimed the lives of 686,000 Brazilians, his popularity has declined.
A severe spotlight was placed on his congressman children, and corruption allegations also pulled ministers out of his government. However, Sunday’s vote demonstrates that his support is still very much intact.