As election day approaches in Brazil, the two main presidential candidates: former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and the current leader Jair Bolsonaro – increased voting efforts.
But it’s an uphill task in a country where 85 percent of voters say they’ve already made up their minds, according to a survey released Thursday by Datafolha.
For Lula, more votes could lead to victory in the first round without the need for a runoff. In the meantime, Bolsonaro needs to move forward, as he is 14 points behind his rival, according to the same poll.
Brazilians will vote for the next president on Sunday, October 2, in the first round of the election. On the same date, the governors, senators, federal and state deputies of the country’s 26 states and federal districts will also be elected.
Voting begins at 8:00 AM in Brasilia (7:00 AM ET) and ends at 5:00 PM locally (4:00 AM ET).
In Brazil’s electoral system, the winning candidate must get more than 50% of the votes. If no candidate passes this threshold, a second ballot will be organized, and the possibilities will be reduced to two candidates from the first round.
In Brazil, polls always estimate the potential performance of candidates in the first round (competing with all other candidates) and in the second round (with only two leading candidates).
More than 156 million Brazilians have the right to vote.
Bolsonaro and da Silva – known as Lula – are, by far, the candidates to watch. Although other candidates are also in the running, they are polling with single-digit percentages and are unlikely to have much competition.
Lula, 76, was president of Brazil for two terms, from 2003 to 2006 and from 2007 to 2011). A household name, he first entered the political scene in the 1970s as the leader of labor strikes challenging the military regime.
In 1980, he was one of the founders of the Workers’ Party (PT), which became the main left-wing political force in Brazil. Lula’s presidency was marked by programs to reduce poverty and inequality in the country, but it was also affected by revelations of a corruption scheme involving the payment of congressional representatives to support government proposals. Due to the lack of evidence of his involvement, Lula himself was never included in the investigation of this scheme.
Lula’s presidential campaign now promises a new tax regime that will allow for greater public spending. He has vowed to end hunger in the country, which is back in Bolsonaro’s government. Lula also promises to work to reduce carbon emissions and deforestation in the Amazon.
Bolsonaro is a former army captain who was a federal deputy for 27 years before running for president in 2018. Long a marginal figure in politics, he emerged as a leading figure on the radical right in the mid-2010s. movement, which considered the PT as its main enemy.
As president, Bolsonaro has followed a conservative agenda, supported by prominent evangelical leaders. His government also became known for supporting the ruthless exploitation of Amazonian land, leading to record deforestation figures. Environmentalists have warned that the future of the jungle may be at stake in these elections.
In his program, Bolsonaro promises to increase mining, privatize public companies and create more sustainable energy to lower energy prices. He has vowed to continue paying the R$600 (roughly $110) monthly benefit known as Auxilio Brasil.
The counting of votes will begin immediately after the close of the voting (mostly electronic) on Sunday.
Brazil’s election authorities say they expect to officially announce the final results of the first round that evening, October 2. They will be published on the website of the electoral court.
In the last election, the results were officially announced two or three hours after the end of the voting. If the main candidate does not manage to gather more than half of all valid votes, a second round will be held on October 30.
Observers will be watching closely to see if all candidates publicly accept the results of the vote. Bolsonaro, who has been accused of throwing supporters away with violent rhetoric, wanted to sow doubts about the result and said that the results should be considered suspicious if he does not win “at least 60%”.
Both he and his conservative Liberal Party have said Brazil’s electronic voting system is susceptible to fraud, a completely unsubstantiated allegation that has drawn comparisons to former US President Donald Trump’s false election claims.
In Brazil, there have been no proven cases of voter fraud in electronic voting.
The Supreme Electoral Court has also rejected the accusations of errors in the system, because they are “false and not true, without basis in reality”.