Brazil's two most prominent and polarizing politicians are heading to a runoff in the race to be president: the far-right incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro and leftist former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (aka Lula). Neither received the 50% needed to claim victory. Lula came out ahead, with 48% of the vote. But Bolsonaro performed better than polls suggested.
“The Bolsonaro administration has presided over a series of disasters for Brazil, whether it be the COVID-19 pandemic, deforestation in the Amazon. … One of the things that we have to consider is that there were plenty of people, given all of this baggage, who simply wouldn't tell pollsters that they were going to support him,” says Andre Pagliarini, assistant professor of history at Hampden-Sydney College, fellow at The Washington Brazil Office.
Bolsonaro has also said that if he doesn’t win this election, then something went wrong, Pagliarini adds.
“When he was in London recently for Queen Elizabeth's funeral, he said, ‘I've been traveling the country, I'm getting really good responses from the voters. If I don't win outright … something is fishy.’ Now, none of the polls had him anywhere near the lead, let alone an outright victory. But [it’s] absolutely the same Trump tactic of laying the groundwork to contest.”
Now an intense campaign begins for the final vote on October 30.
Pagliarini says Bolsonaro’s camp is now emboldened, but a Lula victory is the most likely outcome.
“It's going to be close. And I really worry about the situation of the country.”