The intense presidential race in Brazil will take place a second round after the former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva He failed to secure the overall majority he needed to avoid a run-off with the far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro.
With over 99.5% of the vote counted, the veteran leftist received 48.3% of the vote, not enough to avoid the October 30 bid with his right-wing rival. Bolsonaro, who vastly outperformed pollsters’ predictions and will be boosted by the result, received 43.3%.
Lula, who was president from 2003 until 2010, spoke to the media at a hotel in downtown São Paulo, in a defiant tone, saying, “The struggle continues until our final victory.”
Lula, who was barred from the 2018 election that saw Bolsonaro elected, vowed on corruption charges that were later overturned: “We’re going to win this election – that’s just overtime for us.”
Speaking on the eve of the election, Lula said he hopes to win the first round, but will redouble his efforts to regain power if a second round is needed.
“I feel very hopeful that this election will be decided tomorrow, but if not, we will have to act as a football team when the match goes into extra time. We will rest for 15 minutes and then go back to the field to score the goals we did not score in time,” he told reporters. the original”.
Gliese Hoffman, head of Lula’s Labor Party, told reporters that the campaign was not “sad or disappointed” in the outcome, noting that Lula received more than 56 million votes.
“Congratulations, President Lula,” she declared.
But the election result was a major blow to progressive Brazilians who had been eyeing an emphatic victory over Bolsonaro, the former army chief who has repeatedly attacked the country’s democratic institutions and ruined Brazil’s international reputation.
Bolsonaro is also accused of wreaking havoc on the environment and catastrophically mishandling the Covid epidemic that has killed nearly 700,000 Brazilians, by undermining vaccination and containment efforts and promoting quack drugs.
Speaking Sunday night, Bolsonaro pledged to devote more time to persuading the poorest sectors of society that they would be better off under a far-right government than a leftist one.
The far-right leader said: “I understand that there are a lot of votes (cast) because of the state of the Brazilian people, who feel high prices, especially basic products. I understand that a lot of people would like to change but some changes could be for the worse.”
“We tried to show this other side of the campaign but it didn’t seem to register with the most important strata of society.”
He again said that Brazil should avoid following neighboring countries such as Chile and Colombia that recently elected left-wing leaders, but he flatly refused to answer questions about possible voter fraud, after spending months casting doubts about the security of electronic voting machines.
Bolsonaro has hinted he will not leave office if defeated, raising fears of a Trump-style rebellion among his supporters if Lula wins.
Notable Bolsonaristas have been elected to the Brazilian Congress and as state governors, including Bolsonaro Former Minister of Health, Eduardo Pazuelowho became a congressman for Ryo, and his Former Environment Minister Ricardo Salles.
Patzuelo was Bolsonaro’s health minister during the height of the epidemic that has killed more than 685,000 people in Brazil. As a former military general, he promoted quack remedies such as hydroxychloroquine.
Meanwhile, Salles was the environment minister who oversaw the sharp rise in deforestation in the Amazon. An investigation by the Federal Police accused the far-right colonel of making it difficult to investigate environmental crimes. A separate investigation said he was linked to illegal timber exports. He denied all charges against him.
Bolsonaro’s supportive governor of Rio, Claudio Castro, has been re-elected, while one of the more controversial former ministers, evangelical preacher Damaris Alves, has taken a seat in the Senate.
Tarcisio de Freitas, Bolsonaro’s candidate for governor of Sao Paulo, has also performed better than pollsters expected and will face Lula ally Fernando Haddad in the second round.
“The far right will be happy,” said political expert Christian Lynch.
Thiago Amparo, an academic and columnist for Folha de São Paulo newspaper, said the stronger-than-expected right-wing bid showed Bolsonaro and Bolsonarismo “alive and kicking”.
“There was a feeling among the left that Lula had a chance of winning in the first round…the results show that it was wishful thinking to imagine that the election would be a way to punish Bolsonaro for his disastrous policies during the pandemic.”
“I feel tired,” Amparo added. But the results show that we don’t have time to rest now. It’s time to take to the streets…otherwise we will have a very dark future again.”
“I think Bolsonaro has the momentum,” said Thomas Truman, a Rio de Janeiro-based political observer, although he thinks Lula remains the favourite. “It’s a very disappointing night for the left.”
Lula and his allies insisted on the successes of the Right, and the need for a second round became clear.
“I think this is an opportunity that the Brazilian people give me,” Lula said before heading to a celebration with his supporters on Paulista Avenue in São Paulo. “The campaign starts tomorrow.”
In the historic downtown of Rio de Janeiro, a large crowd, mostly dressed in red, drank beer and danced samba as they waited for the final count to appear on a screen overlooking the square.
But the jubilant mood waned when results showed Lula is still roughly 2 percent shy of the majority he needs to avoid a replay duel with Bolsonaro.
“I’m disappointed,” said Karen Gill, a 23-year-old college student. “Because we saw that Bolsonaro is stronger than we thought.”
Eileen Azevedo, a 34-year-old security systems worker, looked defeated as she stared at the towering screen showing the results.
“I feel despair and pure despair,” said Azevedo, who was dressed in red from head to toe and wearing a hat with Lula’s name on it. “We all thought Lula would win easily.”
But in a nearby bar a block away, Odacio Queiroz Alves, a 65-year-old retired chauffeur, was partying.
“We expected this,” he said. “People are with Bolsonaro. I am sure he will win.”