November 29, 2022

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Brazilian elections enter run-off as Bolsonaro dashes Lula’s hope for a quick win

Brazilian elections enter run-off as Bolsonaro dashes Lula's hope for a quick win

SAO PAULO/BRASILIA (Reuters) – The second round of Brazil’s presidential election campaign kicked off on Monday after right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro swept the polls and stole former leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva from an outright victory in the first round of voting. .

Bolsonaro’s unexpectedly strong performance on Sunday dashed hopes for a quick solution to deeply polarized elections in the world’s fourth largest democracy.

With 99.9% of the electronic votes counted, Lula received 48.4% of the vote against 43.2% for Bolsonaro. With neither of them getting the majority of support, the race will take place in the run-off on October 30th.

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The race proved tougher than most polls suggested, revitalizing Bolsonaro’s campaign after he insisted the polls could not be trusted. If he succeeds in making a comeback, it will interrupt a wave of victories left across the region in recent years, including in Mexico, Colombia, Argentina and Chile.

Adding to the tensions in Brazil, Bolsonaro launched baseless attacks on the integrity of Brazil’s electronic voting system, and indicated that he might not concede if he lost. On Sunday evening, he expressed confidence that victory was within reach and avoided criticism of the voting system.

“I plan to make the right political alliances to win this election,” he told reporters, referring to the significant progress his party made in Congress in the general election.

Bolsonaro’s right-wing allies won 19 of the 27 seats in the Senate, and preliminary results point to a strong showing for his base in the House of Representatives.

The strong performance of Bolsonaro and his allies, which increased pressure on Lula to beat the center, prompted bankers and analysts to expect a strengthening for Brazilian financial markets on Monday after Sunday’s surprising result.

Lula was upbeat about the outcome, saying he was looking forward to another month in the election campaign and the opportunity to discuss Bolsonaro face to face.

But within his campaign, there was clear frustration that he did not live up to narrow majority expectations in some opinion polls, along with poor results in state races outside his party’s traditional stronghold in the Northeast.

“There was a clear movement of votes in the southeast beyond what the polls and even the campaign were able to detect,” said a campaign source, who asked not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue.

The support of the distant third and fourth place also fell short of recent polls, suggesting that some of their supporters may have turned to Bolsonaro when it came time to vote.

Centrist Senator Simon Tibet, who received 4% of the vote, and former center-left MP Ciro Gomez, who got 3%, said Sunday night that they would announce decisions on the endorsement in the coming days.

With momentum on Bolsonaro’s favour, Lula may need all the help he can get.

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“It is clear that Bolsonarismo has been underestimated,” said Senator Humberto Costa, a PT Lula.

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Additional reporting by Lisandra Paraguaso in Sao Paulo and Maria Carolina Marcelo in Brasilia. Editing by Jerry Doyle

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