Brazil votes on Sunday. Here’s what you need to know


Brazil’s hotly contested presidential election is less than 24 hours away, and for many Brazilians the stakes couldn’t be higher.

Two household names – former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and current leader Jair Bolsonaro – are battling to become the country’s next president. Depending on the eventual winner, Latin America’s biggest economy is likely to continue on Bolsonaro’s conservative, pro-business path, or else take a left turn under Lula.

In recent weeks, both candidates have stepped up their efforts to woo voters. But that’s a daunting task in a country where 85% of voters say they’ve already made up their minds, according to a Datafolha poll released Thursday.

For Lula, more votes could mean victory in the first ballot, without the need for a second ballot. Meanwhile, Bolsonaro needs to catch up, having fallen 14 points behind his rival in the same survey.

Brazilians will vote for their next president on Sunday, October 2, in the first round of elections. On the same date, governors, senators, federal and state deputies from the country’s 26 states plus the federal district will also be chosen.

Voting is expected to begin at 8:00 a.m. local time in Brasilia (7:00 a.m. ET) and end at 5:00 p.m. local time (4:00 p.m. ET).

In the Brazilian electoral system, a winning candidate must obtain more than 50% of the votes. If no candidate crosses this threshold, a second round of voting will be organized, during which the options will be reduced to the two heads of the list of the first round.

In Brazil, opinion polls always assess the potential performance of candidates in the first round (competition with all other candidates) and in the second round (with only two top candidates).

More than 156 million Brazilians have the right to vote.

Bolsonaro and Lula are by far the candidates to watch. Although other candidates are also in the running, they vote with single-digit percentages and are unlikely to pose much competition.

Lula, 76, served as 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 a leader of labor strikes who challenged 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 presidential terms have been marked by programs aimed at reducing poverty and inequality in the country, but also rocked by revelations of a corruption scheme involving the payment of representatives to Congress 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 campaign for the presidency now promises a new tax regime that will allow for increased public spending. He has vowed to end hunger in the country, which has returned under the Bolsonaro government. Lula also promises to work to reduce carbon emissions and deforestation in the Amazon.

Bolsonaro is a former army captain who served as a federal deputy for 27 years before running for president in 2018. A marginal figure in politics for much of that time, he emerged in the mid-2010s as a figurehead of a more radical right. movement that perceived the PT as its main enemy.

As president, Bolsonaro has pursued a conservative agenda, backed by prominent evangelical leaders. His government has also become known for supporting ruthless land exploitation in the Amazon, leading to record deforestation figures. Environmentalists have warned that the future of the rainforest could be at stake in this election.

In his program, Bolsonaro promises to increase mining, privatize state-owned companies and generate more sustainable energy to drive down energy prices. He agreed to continue paying a monthly benefit of R$600 (about US$110) known as Auxilio Brasil.

Da Silva speaks during an event organized by labor unions on International Workers' Day in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, May 1, 2022.

Vote counting begins just after the (mostly electronic) polls close on Sunday.

Brazilian electoral authorities say they expect the final results of the first round to be officially announced on the evening of October 2. They will be published on the website of the electoral court.

In the last elections, the results were officially announced two to three hours after the end of the vote. If the leading candidate fails to collect more than half of the valid votes, a second round will take place on October 30.

Observers will be watching closely to see if all candidates publicly accept the outcome of the vote. Bolsonaro, who has been accused of firing supporters with violent rhetoric, sought to cast doubt on the outcome and said the results should be viewed as suspicious if he does not get ‘at least 60 per cent’ .

He and his conservative Liberal Party claimed that Brazil’s electronic voting system was likely to be fraudulent – a completely unfounded allegation that drew comparisons to former US President Donald Trump’s false election claims.

There have been no proven cases of electoral fraud in electronic voting in Brazil.

The Supreme Electoral Court also dismissed allegations of flaws in the system, calling them “false and untruthful, with no basis in reality”.


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