Brazil election: Lula to face Bolsonaro in run-off for presidency

Brazil election: Lula to face Bolsonaro in run-off for presidency

Brazil’s top two presidential candidates will face each other in a run-off vote after neither got enough support to win outright in Sunday’s election.

With almost all the votes tallied, left-wing former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had 48.1% support and far-right incumbent president Jair Bolsonaro had 43.5% support.

Brazil’s election authority said the result made a second-round vote between the two candidates a mathematical certainty.The run-off will take place on October 30.

The tightness of the result on Sunday came as a surprise, since pre-election polls had given Mr da Silva a commanding lead.

The last Datafolha survey published on Saturday found a 50% to 36% advantage for Mr da Silva among those who intended to vote. It interviewed 12,800 people, with a margin of error of two percentage points.

“This tight difference between Lula and Bolsonaro wasn’t predicted,” said Nara Pavao, who teaches political science at the Federal University of Pernambuco.

Carlos Melo, a political science professor at Insper University in Sao Paulo, said: “It is too soon to go too deep, but this election shows Bolsonaro’s victory in 2018 was not a hiccup.”

Mr Bolsonaro outperformed in Brazil’s southeast region, which includes populous Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais states, according to Rafael Cortez, who oversees political risk at consultancy Tendencias Consultoria. “The polls didn’t capture that growth,” Mr Cortez said.

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

But he has built a devoted base in the world’s fourth-largest democracy by defending conservative values and presenting himself as protecting the nation from leftist policies that he says infringe on personal liberties and produce economic turmoil.

Mr Da Silva is credited with building an extensive social welfare programme during his 2003-2010 tenure that helped lift tens of millions into the middle class.

He is also remembered for his administration’s involvement in vast corruption scandals and his own convictions, which were later annulled by the Supreme Court.

Polls closed at 5pm on Sunday nationwide and because the vote is conducted electronically, initial results are out quickly. Final results are usually available a few hours later.

More than 150 million Brazilians were eligible to vote, though abstention rates can reach as high as 20%.

The election wound up being far tighter than anticipated, both in the presidential contest and those for governorships and congressional seats.

Nine other candidates were also competing for the presidency, but their support pales to that for Mr Bolsonaro and Mr da Silva.