Tuesday, February 27

Lula and Bolsonaro go to vote in the most polarized Brazilian presidential elections

The electoral colleges in Brazil have already opened their doors so that citizens can choose between two antagonistic models of the country, that of the current head of state, the far-right Jair Bolsonaro, or that of the former leftist president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Some 156.4 million Brazilians are called to the polls, which have opened at 8:00 local time and will continue until 5:00 p.m. (20:00 GMT). As in the first round, held on October 2, all voters who are in line at closing time will be allowed to vote.

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Both candidates have already turned out to vote. The president did so first thing in the morning, in the Military Village of Rio de Janeiro, the city where he resides. The president was dressed in a yellow shirt similar to that of the national team, with the word “Brazil” printed on the chest in green, under which he wore a bulletproof vest.

“The expectation is for victory, we only have good news in recent days. God willing, we will be victorious this afternoon. Or better yet, Brazil is going to be victorious this afternoon,” Bolsonaro said in brief statements to the press. The leader of the Brazilian far-right has asked his followers to vote using the colors of the national flag, green and yellow.

Former President Lula da Silva did so a little later, in São Bernardo do Campo, in the populous city of São Paulo. After typing in his vote – voting is done electronically in Brazil – the leader of the Workers’ Party thanked his entire team and predicted that this Sunday will be the most important day of his life and also a very important day for all the people of Brazil.

In the first round, Lula, champion of a broad progressive front to which center and center-right forces have joined, was the most voted candidate with 48.4% of the vote, compared to 43.2% obtained by Bolsonaro, captain retired from the Army, from the radical right and who aspires to a new four-year term. Both candidates have divided the electorate as had not been seen in the recent history of Brazil and have rushed until the last moment on Saturday to close a fierce campaign that has lasted for two and a half months.

Lula, who governed the country between 2003 and 2010, put an end to his campaign in São Paulo in the company of former Uruguayan president José Mujica, while Bolsonaro took a motorcycle ride through Belo Horizonte and, at night, released a list with 22 –the number that must be pressed on the voting machines to support him– “commitments”, in an attempt to reduce the distance with his adversary.

Although the leftist leader surpassed Bolsonaro by more than six million votes in the first round, the polls, which then underestimated the far-right, have been closing the distance between the two and some this week showed a technical tie scenario. Lula and Bolsonaro have focused on convincing the undecided and absentees, who reached 20% in the first round, despite the fact that voting is mandatory in Brazil.

However, the margin to gain new support is minimal and, in fact, there have been no big swings in voting intentions in the most recent polls.

Lula continues with a wide advantage in the northeast region, the PT’s historic breadbasket of votes, and among the poorest population, which represents practically half of the electorate. Lula was born precisely in Pernambuco, a region in that part of the country, which during his administration experienced significant socioeconomic growth.

Bolsonaro, for his part, stands out among the wealthiest and the influential evangelical electorate, whom Lula has tried to seduce with the disclosure of a letter in which he declared himself against abortion and affirmed that the family is “a sacred thing.”

This Sunday’s voting takes place in the 5,570 cities of the country and in 181 locations abroad.

a violent campaign

The entire Brazilian electoral campaign has been largely marked by the growing political violence in the country. In recent months, three leaders of the Workers’ Party have been assassinated, the last one just two days ago. Reginaldo Camilo dos Santos, one of the main co-religionists of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in the municipality of Jandira, in the state of São Paulo, was shot dead this Friday when he was near his house. Although the Sao Paulo Civil Police has not yet identified any suspects or has clues about the motives for the crime, it does not rule out that it could be a political reprisal because “Zezinho del PT” had been denouncing different corruption in Jandira, a municipality from the outskirts of São Paulo, the largest Brazilian city.

A little over a month ago, a man walked into a bar in a town on the outskirts of Fortaleza, in northeastern Brazil, and said: “Who is going to vote for Lula?” When a man stood up to defend the candidate, the assailant stabbed him in the chest, according to witnesses. The victim died within minutes.

In July, in the town of Foz de Iguazú, on the border with Argentina, the leader of the PT Marcelo Arruda was celebrating his birthday when a prison official from the area entered the party with a gun shouting “here we are from Bolsonaro” and shot to death, according to the testimonies of those present that were collected by the local press

This same Saturday, a Brazilian deputy close to the president chased a man at gunpoint in the middle of a street in the capital of São Paulo. Carla Zambelli, who was re-elected deputy in the legislative elections on October 2, stated on her social networks that she acted that way because alleged supporters of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva “surrounded” her and “attacked” her when she was leaving a restaurant.