March 29, 2023

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President in Brazil: Bolsonaro eyes tense second round, hot on Lula’s heels

VideoLeft-wing ex-president Lula won the first round of Brazil’s election on Sunday by a slimmer margin than polls predicted for incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro.

Luis Inacio Lula da Silva won 48.4% of the vote, compared to 43.2% for Bolsonaro, according to almost final but still partial results, with the latest poll Datafolha Saturday evening giving the leftist ex-president 14 points. Saturday night.

“We have defeated the lies” of the polls, the far-right president said, adding that he was optimistic about the idea of ​​”playing the second half” of the presidential election.

On Lula’s side, a football metaphor: “It’s just a stretch. I can tell you that we are going to win this election,” the former president (2003-2010) assured.

“The fight continues until the final victory,” said the 76-year-old former steelworker, who admitted he hoped to win the first round and was depressed after the result was announced.


“It was a surprise, Bolsonaro got more votes than we expected, especially in the two most important states of the country, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro,” said Paulo Calman, a political scientist at AFP. told the University of Brasilia.

“In the second round, the presidential race remains open and promises to be hotly contested. There is still every chance that Bolsonaro will be re-elected,” he added.

Brazilians punished the 67-year-old outgoing president less than expected for the ouster of Covid (685,000 dead), the economic crisis in a country where more than 30 million people are starving and the crises that halted his entire mandate.

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By October 30, the populist leader will have an opportunity to rally his troops on the streets and find new momentum.

“It adds to the uncertainty,” Georgetown University’s Michael Shifter told AFP.

Victory of “Bolsonarism”.

In addition, several Bolsonaro candidates, including former government ministers, have been elected to Congress.

The highly controversial Ricardo Salles, who was suspected of involvement in a logging network from Amazonia while Minister of the Environment, for example, secured a position as vice chancellor.

Claudio Castro, an ally of the head of state in Rio de Janeiro, was re-elected governor in the first round.

Bruna Santos of the Brazil Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington sums up that “Bolsonarism is the winner in this first round.”

“We will hold a second round in a very polarized environment, between Simone Debate (centre-right, 4% of the vote) and Ciro Gomez (centre-left, 3%), almost 8 million people, who will decide who will be the next President, he added.

In the Lulist camp, Viviane Laureano da Silva, a 36-year-old civil servant, was optimistic: “The campaign will be difficult, but Lula will win the second round,” she told AFP in Rio.

In São Paulo, 63-year-old Jose Antonio Benedetto lamented: “Bolsonaro’s score surprised us, they did better than us. I don’t know what is happening in Brazil, almost half of our population is sick, only Lula can treat our people, vaccinate them.

“Democratic Maturity”

Lula is running for his sixth presidential term, 12 years after leaving power with a stratospheric approval rating (87%).

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But he is struggling to shake off the image of corruption that clings to him from the massive “Lavage Express” scandal that saw him jailed for 18 months before his convictions were overturned or recommended.

Throughout the day, Brazilians rushed en masse to elect their president, but representatives, a third of senators and governors of 27 states waited in long lines.

The poll, which called for 156 million voters, took place without violence or major incident in Latin America’s largest country.

Bolsonaro has repeatedly threatened not to recognize the outcome of the referendum and unrest is feared.

“Brazilian society has shown great democratic maturity,” the president of the High Electoral Court (TSE) said after the results were announced.

U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken responded on Twitter saying, “We congratulate the people of Brazil and its institutions for the success of the first round of elections.” The same peaceful spirit.

More than 500,000 members of the security forces were mobilized to ensure the security of the vote, which took place in front of dozens of foreign spectators.