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International News: Brazil presidential election heads to a runoff vote after incumbent Bolsonaro’s strong showing

Posted: Monday, October 3, 2022. 10:36 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: Incumbent President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro and his leftist rival Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will face each other across the ballot box once more on October 30 after neither failed to gain the 50 percent majority needed to avoid a run-off vote, Reuters reports.

Most polling firms had given Lula a 10 to 15-point lead ahead of Sunday’s vote, raising the possibility of a first-round victory for the leftist. But with 99.99 percent of electronic votes counted, Lula had taken 48.4 percent of votes versus 43.2 percent for Bolsonaro, sending both to the run-off.

Lula, a two-term former president who was jailed on corruption convictions that were later overturned, for many remains the favourite to be re-elected later this month. But Bolsonaro’s better-than-expected performance revitalized his campaign, giving credence to his claim that the pollsters were wrong to write him off in Brazil’s most fraught election since the end of military rule in 1985. The far-right leader’s strong showing also prolonged questions about whether Brazil’s democratic institutions will be able to stand up to his unfounded allegations that the country’s voting system can’t be trusted.

Bolsonaro’s right-wing Liberal Party (PL) won 99 seats in the 513-member lower house, up from 77, and right-leaning parties allied with Bolsonaro now control half the chamber. PL candidates won 13 of the 27 seats up for grabs in the Senate, with two more possible in runoffs, a party spokesman said.

After his unexpected surge, many analysts said the electoral momentum was now with Bolsonaro. If he does pull off a dramatic comeback, it would break with a wave of victories for leftists across the region in recent years, including Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, and Chile.

On Sunday night, Bolsonaro adopted a more statesmanlike tone than usual, expressing confidence that victory was within reach and avoiding his usual unfounded attacks on Brazil’s voting system. In the run-up to the vote, he had made baseless allegations about the integrity of the electronic voting system and had suggested he may not concede if he loses.

“I plan to make the right political alliances to win this election,” he told journalists, pointing to the significant advances his party made in Congress.

Lula put an optimistic spin on the result, saying he was looking forward to another month on the campaign trail and the chance to debate Bolsonaro head-to-head.

Inside his campaign, however, there was clear frustration that he had fallen short of the hoped-for outright win, as well as with weak results in state races outside of his party’s traditional northeastern stronghold.


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