Brazil’s elections: Bolsonaro and Lula da Silva go to the second round

In Brazil, elections were also held on October 2 - but not parliamentary, as in our country, but presidential. However, the winner of the first round was not determined - the leftist candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will face the far-right president Jair Bolsonaro in a runoff. After the counting of almost all the votes, Lula won 48% against 43% for the current head of state, reports the BBC. This is a much closer result than the public opinion polls indicated. Lula da Silva was expected to collect more than 50% of the valid votes needed to win in the first round.

Voters now have four weeks to decide which of the two should lead Brazil. An outright victory in the first round has always been a difficult task for any candidate – the last time this happened was 24 years ago. Lula da Silva made a remarkable comeback. He was unable to run in the 2018 election as he was in prison on a corruption conviction. This election is a drama year in the making. The two are bitter rivals and traded insults for most of the campaign. In the final televised debate before the vote, President Bolsonaro called Lula a thief, citing corruption charges that put him behind bars for 580 days before the conviction was overturned. In turn, Da Silva called the head of state “crazy”. Lula says he will strengthen measures to protect the Amazon rainforest, while Bolsonaro says parts of it should be subject to economic exploitation. Deforestation increased during the president’s tenure, as did forest fires. Climate activists have warned that if Bolsonaro is re-elected, the region could reach a tipping point.

Critics point out that Lula’s environmental record during his tenure from 2003 to 2010 was far from perfect. But since Bolsonaro relies on the votes and support of the agricultural sector and agribusiness, it is Lula who is the preferred choice of climate activists. However, voters in Brazil have many other pressing issues, such as rising food prices that have contributed to increased poverty and hunger. Many voters also cited education and Brazil’s high levels of inequality as issues they want the new president to address. Bolsonaro has already said that “only God” can remove him from office. He also cast doubt on Brazil’s electronic voting system, claiming – without providing any evidence – that it could be rigged. With the result much more favorable to him than predicted, the head of state is now likely to focus more on how to influence voters who voted for one of the other nine candidates who dropped out in the first round. Lula da Silva announced that “the struggle continues until the final victory, this is our motto”.

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