Da Silva edges Bolsonaro in Brazil election, but not by enough votes to avoid runoff

Sunday - 02/10/2022 21:16
Brazil's election authority announced late Sunday that a second round was a mathematical certainty.


RIO DE JANEIRO – Former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of the leftist Workers’ Party got the most votes in Brazil’s presidential election Sunday, but not enough to avoid a runoff vote against his far-right rival, incumbent Jair Bolsonaro.

With 97% of the votes tallied, da Silva had 47.9% support and Bolsonaro 43.6%. Since neither candidate received more than 50% of the valid votes, which exclude spoiled and blank ballots, a second round vote between them will be scheduled for Oct. 30.

Brazil's election authority announced late Sunday that a second round was a mathematical certainty.

The highly polarized election will determine whether the country returns a leftist to the helm of the world’s fourth-largest democracy or keeps the far-right leader in office for another four years.

Recent opinion polls have given da Silva a commanding lead — the last Datafolha survey published Saturday found a 50% to 36% advantage for da Silva among those who intended to vote. It interviewed 12,800 people, with a margin of error of 2 percentage points.

But as the vote tallies rolled in, the race was tighter than expected.

 

Supporters of former President of Brazil and Candidate for the Worker's Party Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva shout slogans at the end of the general election day at Largo da Prainha on Oct. 2, 2022, in Rio de Janeiro.
Supporters of former President of Brazil and Candidate for the Worker's Party Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva shout slogans at the end of the general election day at Largo da Prainha on Oct. 2, 2022, in Rio de Janeiro.


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Bolsonaro’s administration has been marked by incendiary speech, his testing of democratic institutions, his widely criticized handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the worst deforestation in the Amazon rainforest in 15 years.

But he has built a devoted base by defending conservative values, rebuffing political correctness and presenting himself as protecting the nation from leftist policies that he says infringe on personal liberties and produce economic turmoil.

Marley Melo, a 53-year-old trader in capital Brasilia, sported the yellow of the Brazilian flag, which Bolsonaro and his supporters have coopted for demonstrations. Melo said he is once again voting for Bolsonaro, who met his expectations, and he doesn't believe the surveys that show him trailing.

“Polls can be manipulated. They all belong to companies with interests," he said.

A slow economic recovery has yet to reach the poor, with 33 million Brazilians going hungry despite higher welfare payments. Like several of its Latin American neighbors coping with high inflation and a vast number of people excluded from formal employment, Brazil is considering a shift to the political left.
 

Brazil's former president and now presidential candidate Luiz Inacio 'Lula' da Silva of the Workers' Party, participate in a presidential debate in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022. Brazil will hold general elections on Oct. 2. (AP Photo/Bruna Prado) ORG XMIT: XEP121
Brazil's former president and now presidential candidate Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva of the Workers' Party, participate in a presidential debate in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022. Brazil will hold general elections on Oct. 2. (AP Photo/Bruna Prado) ORG XMIT: XEP121


Lula da Silva lifted millions from poverty, but was tied to scandals

Da Silva, 76, will vote in Sao Paulo state, where he was once a metalworker and union leader. He rose from poverty to the presidency and is credited with building an extensive social welfare program during his 2003-2010 tenure that helped lift tens of millions into the middle class.

But he is also remembered for his administration's involvement in vast corruption scandals that entangled politicians and business executives.

Da Silva's own convictions for corruption and money laundering led to 19 months imprisonment, sidelining him from the 2018 presidential race that polls indicated he had been leading against Bolsonaro. The Supreme Court later annulled da Silva's convictions on the grounds that the judge was biased and colluded with prosecutors.

Social worker Nadja Oliveira, 59, said she voted for da Silva and even attended his rallies, but since 2018 votes for Bolsonaro.

“Unfortunately the Workers’ Party disappointed us. It promised to be different,” she said in Brasilia.

Others, like Marialva Pereira, are more forgiving. She said she would vote for the former president for the first time since 2002.

“I didn’t like the scandals in his first administration, never voted for the Workers’ Party again. Now I will, because I think he was unjustly jailed and because Bolsonaro is such a bad president that it makes everyone else look better,” said Pereira, 47.

Speaking after casting his ballot in Sao Bernardo do Campo, the manufacturing hub in Sao Paulo state where he was a union leader, da Silva recalled that four years ago he was imprisoned and unable to vote.

“I want to try to make the country return to normality, try to make this country again take care of its people,” he told reporters.
 

A follower of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio 'Lula' da Silva, who is again running for president, celebrates as she listens to the partial results after general election polls closed in Rio de Janeiro on Oct. 2, 2022.
A follower of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva, who is again running for president, celebrates as she listens to the partial results after general election polls closed in Rio de Janeiro on Oct. 2, 2022.


Bolsonaro backs military involvement in election

Bolsonaro, who will vote in Rio de Janeiro, grew up in a modest family before joining the army. He eventually turned to politics after being forced out of the military for openly pushing to raise servicemen's pays. During his seven terms as a fringe lawmaker in Congress' lower house, he regularly expressed nostalgia for the country's two-decade military dictatorship.

His overtures to the armed forces have raised concern that his possible rejection of election results could be backed by top brass.

On Saturday, Bolsonaro shared social media posts by right-leaning foreign politicians, including former U.S. President Donald Trump, who called on Brazilians to vote for him. Israel’s former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed gratitude for stronger bilateral relations and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán also praised him.

After voting Sunday morning, Bolsonaro told journalists that “clean elections must be respected” and that the first round would be decisive. Asked if he would respect results, he gave a thumbs up and walked away.

Leda Wasem, 68, had no doubt Bolsonaro will not just be reelected, but win outright in the first round. Wearing a jersey of the national soccer squad at a polling place in downtown Curitiba, the real estate agent said an eventual da Silva victory could have only one explanation: fraud.

“I wouldn’t believe it. Where I work, where I go every day, I don’t see a single person who supports Lula,” she said.
 

President of Brazil and presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro gestures before the third and final debate organized by Globo ahead of presidential elections on Sept. 29, 2022 in Rio de Janeiro. Brazilians face a crucial election that confronts political rivals former president Lula da Silva and incumbent Bolsonaro.
President of Brazil and presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro gestures before the third and final debate organized by Globo ahead of presidential elections on Sept. 29, 2022 in Rio de Janeiro. Brazilians face a crucial election that confronts political rivals former president Lula da Silva and incumbent Bolsonaro.

Author: Editors Desk

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