Brazil’s presidential election will go to a runoff on Oct. 30, as far-right President Jair Bolsonaro’s strong early showing seemed to have dashed leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s hopes of a first-round victory.
With 97.3% of electronic voting machines counted, Lula was slightly ahead with 47.9% of the vote to Bolsonaro’s 43.7%, the national electoral authority said on its website.
If no candidate gets more than half of the votes, excluding blank and spoiled votes, the top two will go to a runoff in four weeks.
The polls pointed to former president Lula (2003-2010), leader of the Workers’ Party (PT), as the wide favorite to return to the presidency, even with the possibility of winning in the first round.
At the PT’s ‘headquarters’, in a hotel in Sao Paulo where Lula accompanied the progress of the vote, some allies were nervous about the progress of the count.
“Everyone is nervous about this start. Bolsonaro is leading, but the states that are most advanced are the most Bolsonarist. We are going to turn it around,” indigenous leader Sonia Guajajara, a candidate for deputy, told AFP.
Bolsonaro, meanwhile, awaits the progress of the count in the Palacio de la Alvorada, official residence in Brasilia.
Polarization in sight
A second round vote could increase the fierce polarization and latent political violence in the largest country in Latin America. A close vote in the first round would also give a big boost to Bolsonaro who was trailing Lula by 10-15 percentage points according to polls ahead of Sunday’s vote.
Bolsonaro has questioned the polls that showed him defeated by Lula in the first round, because they did not reflect the support he saw in the campaign.
The retired army captain has repeatedly called into question the country’s electronic voting system without any evidence, raising fears that he will refuse to accept defeat and trigger an institutional crisis.
With information from Reuters and AFP