Brazil braces for runoff; Lula da Silva to face Bolsonaro
Brazilians will vote again after the former president won the first round but fell short of a majority over the incumbent.
The bitterly contested presidential election in Brazil will go to a runoff on October 30, with incumbent Jair Bolsonaro finishing a close second to front-runner Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
It was an unexpectedly strong result for Bolsonaro – and for Brazil's far-right, revealed in a number of key Congressional and governors' races.
Lula, Brazil's ex-president, who led the country from 2003 to 2010, was considered the favorite to win the race in a single round.
On the eve of the election, leading polling firm Datafolha predicted Lula would receive 50% of the vote, with Bolsonaro receiving 36%.
To win in the first round, a candidate needed to receive more than 50% of the vote. Instead, Bolsonaro, 67, and Lula, 76, will engage in tense elections.
Lula hailed the result as a win
Lula addressed the media at a hotel in downtown Sao Paulo, striking a defiant tone, declaring, "The struggle continues until our final victory."
“I feel great hope that this election will be decided tomorrow, but if it isn’t we’ll have to behave like a football team when a match goes to extra time. We’ll rest for 15 minutes and then we’ll get back out onto the pitch to score the goals we didn’t score in normal time,” he told reporters.
However, the election result dealt a significant blow to progressive Brazilians who had hoped for a decisive victory over Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly attacked the country's democratic institutions and vandalized Brazil's international reputation.
Bolsonaro was accused of wreaking havoc on the environment and mishandling the Covid epidemic, which killed nearly 700,000 Brazilians, by undermining vaccination and containment efforts and peddling quack cures.
Bolsonaro declares victory over the “lie”
Despite all this, Bolsonaro declared victory over the "lie" of opinion polls that had placed him a distant second in elections Sunday in which he performed far better than predicted, forcing a runoff.
"We beat the lie today," said Bolsonaro of the Datafolha polling institute on Monday.
"Now the campaign is ours... I'm completely confident. We have a lot of positive accomplishments to show," he stressed.
This comes one day after Bolsonaro promised to spend more time convincing the poorest sectors of society that a far-right government is preferable to a leftist one.
“I understand there were a lot of votes (cast) because of the condition of the Brazilian people, who feel prices increases, especially basic products. I understand that a lot of people desire change but some changes can be for the worst,” he said on Sunday evening.
“We tried to show this other side in the campaign but it seems like it didn’t register with the most important layers of society,” he added.
It is worth noting that Bolsonaro, who was elected in 2018 on a wave of anti-establishment outrage, has lost support from the political center due to his combative political style, poor economic performance, rampant Amazon rainforest destruction, and the carnage of Covid-19.