Far-right President Jair Bolsonaro and challenger Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva were very close on Sunday in the second round of Brazil’s presidential election, after 50.9% of the vote was counted.
The election pits an incumbent party swearing to protect conservative Christian values against a former president who vows to return the country to a more prosperous past.
According to the country’s electoral authority, Bolsonaro is now behind da Silva.
Polling stations closed nationwide at 5:00 PM (2000 GMT; 4:00 PM EDT). Because the voting takes place electronically, the first results are known quickly and the final results are usually available a few hours later.
In the first round of voting, on October 2, the first half of the votes counted showed Bolsonaro a lead, with da Silva later taking the lead after the votes from his strongholds were counted. Both men are well-known, divisive political figures who stir both passion and disgust.
The vote will determine whether the world’s fourth-largest democracy continues the same course of far-right politics or returns a leftist to the top job — and, in the latter case, whether Bolsonaro will accept defeat. There were multiple reports of what critics say were attempts to suppress the turnout of likely Da Silva voters.
Polling stations in the capital Brasilia were already overcrowded in the morning and at one of them retired government official Luiz Carlos Gomes said he would vote for da Silva.
Tonight, voters in the world’s fourth-largest democracy will decide whether former left-wing leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, better known as Lula, will defeat current far-right President Jair Bolsonaro. Pictured: Bolsonaro shortly after casting his vote this morning in Rio de Janerio
Concerns have now been raised that if Bolsonaro, nicknamed ‘Trump of the Tropics’, were to lose, he might refuse to admit defeat.
If he does not accept the election results, there are fears that his armed supporters will take to the streets to protest.
But on Friday night, he pledged to respect the election results, though possible allegations of manipulation and backlash from his supporters are high.
A concerned voter, en route to a Lula rally in Sao Paolo, said she feared Bolsonaro would ignore the electorate’s decision.
Marcia dos Santos, 27, said: “He is a dictator by nature, he and his family have attacked our state structures.
Former President of Brazil and candidate for the 2022 elections Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva spoke at a press conference shortly after casting his vote on his morning in Sao Bernardo do Campo, near Sao Paulo, Brazil
“Everyone is concerned. My mother doesn’t want me on the street after the results. But we have to come out, we have to come out to defend the vote.’
Her friend, 33-year-old teacher Antonia Luiz, added: “We’ve had disaster after disaster with Bolsonaro. This is an opportunity to set the record straight with Lula. He’s a good man.’
The president has previously come under fire for his disastrous handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 680,000 in Brazil, as well as his vitriolic style and disregard for political correctness.
In recent months, however, falling unemployment rates, slowing inflation and a recovering economy have given him a boost.
Concerns have now been raised that if Bolsonaro, nicknamed ‘Trump of the Tropics’, were to lose, he could refuse to admit defeat. If he refuses to accept the election results, there are fears that his armed supporters will take to the streets in protest. In the photo: Brazilian is going to the polling station this afternoon
Trump, who continues to falsely claim that he defeated President Joe Biden in the 2020 election, called the left-wing candidate “a radical leftist lunatic who will soon destroy your country.”
He previously called the current Brazilian president a “great friend.”
Mr Trump said, “Jair Bolsonaro and I have become good friends to the people of the United States over the years.
“He’s a great man and he has my full support.”
Supporters of Brazil’s current president, Bolsonaro, on election day in the capital Brasilia. The president has previously come under fire for his disastrous handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has left more than 680,000 dead in Brazil, as well as his vitriolic style and disregard for political correctness.
President Biden’s administration quickly intervened to add that it will act quickly to recognize which leader has been democratically elected.
The government urged Brazil to ensure “free, fair, credible, transparent and peaceful” elections, adding that it would review relations with the South American country if anti-democratic methods are used.
Earlier this month, one of Bolsonaro’s sons, Eduardo, met Trump supporters in the US, where he claimed his father “would be the victim of the biggest electoral fraud ever seen” — words nearly identical to Trump’s after he won the 2020 election. had lost.
In the first-round election on October 2, 77-year-old Lula narrowly won the first-round election and entered the final as the slight favourite.
A Lula supporter leaves his phone with election officials at a polling station before casting his vote in the Florida ballot. Florida has the second largest number of Brazilians to vote in the United States
The latest poll by the Datafolha Institute on Saturday showed that 52 percent of voters favored the left-wing candidate, and 48 percent supported the current leader. But when Bolsonaro was last elected, he outperformed all predictions.
President Bolsonaro was seen wearing a yellow and green T-shirt casting his vote in Rio de Janeiro minutes after polls opened, while Lula voted in his hometown of São Bernardo do Campo in São Paulo state.
Bolsonaro greeted supporters outside the polling station and said: “God willing, we will be victorious later today. Or better yet, Brazil will prevail.’
However, the left-wing candidate said he is “confident in the victory of democracy” and that he would try to “restore peace” to the divided nation if elected.
Supporters of Brazil’s former president Lula and leftist Workers’ Party candidate enjoy a beer at a bar in downtown Sao Paulo on election day
Brazilians still remain divided over which man is best to lead their country as the fraught elections come to a close.
Eliane de Oliveira, a 61-year-old lawyer who voted in Rio, said: “I think this is the best government Brazil has ever had.”
She added that she was happy with a government that was “not corrupt”, referring to the corruption scandal surrounding Lula.
The former president was the country’s most popular leader when he left office in 2011, after lifting millions out of poverty through social programs.
Supporters of Brazilian President Bolsonaro applaud leader on election day in Brazilian capital Brasilia
But then he got caught up in a massive corruption scandal and was jailed for 18 months before his convictions were thrown out last year. The Supreme Court found the leading judge to be biased, but Lula was not acquitted.
If he wins, he will face a hostile Congress dominated by Bolsonaro lawmakers and allies.
Others are happy to support the former leader. A gym teacher, Gustavo Souza, voted for Lula in hopes of improving people’s lives.
Like many, he said he was ‘afraid’ of the result and worried that Bolsonaro would not accept the result.
The teacher added: ‘People have become so radical. They’re going to need some maturity… or it’s going to be World War III or World War 4.’
The 156 million Brazilian voters on the ballot paper will vote tonight until 8pm UK time. The election results are expected to be announced within a few hours.