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


Brazil competed hard Presidential election 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 president Jair Bolsonaro — are vying to become the country’s next president. Depending on who ultimately wins, Latin America’s largest economy could continue on Bolsonaro’s conservative, pro-business path or turn leftward under Lula.

In recent weeks, both candidates have stepped up efforts to woo voters. But that’s a tough 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, a high number of votes would mean victory in the first round of voting, without the need for a runoff. Meanwhile, Bolsonaro has to catch up after trailing his rival by 14 points in the same survey.

Brazilians will vote for their next president in the first round on Sunday, October 2. On the same date, governors, senators, federal and state representatives for the country’s 26 states and federal districts will also be elected.

Voting will begin at 8 am local time in Brasilia (7 am ET) and close at 5 pm local time (4 pm ET).

In the Brazilian electoral system, a winning candidate must receive more than 50% of the vote. If no candidate crosses that threshold, a second round of voting is organized, in which preferences are reduced to the two front-runners from the first round.

In Brazil, polls always assess the potential performance of candidates in the first round (with all other candidates competing) and in the second round (with the two leading candidates).

More than 156 million Brazilians are eligible to vote.

Bolsonaro and Lula are candidates to watch. Although other candidates are also in the race, they are polling with single-digit percentages and are unlikely to cause much competition.

Lula, 76, was Brazil’s president from 2003 to 2006 and from 2007 to 2011. A household name, he first came onto the political scene in the 1970s as the leader of labor strikes against military rule.

In 1980, he was one of the founders of the Workers’ Party (PT), which became Brazil’s main left-wing political force. Lula’s presidency was marked by programs aimed at reducing poverty and inequality in the country, but revealed a corrupt scheme to pay congressional representatives to support government programs. Due to the lack of evidence of his involvement, Lula was never included in the investigation of the project.

Lula’s campaign for the presidency now promises new taxation to allow for more public spending. He has vowed to end hunger in the country, dating back to the Bolsonaro government. Lula also promises to reduce carbon emissions and deforestation in the Amazon.

Bolsonaro is a former military leader who served as federal vice president for 27 years before running for president in 2018. A minor figure in politics during this time, he emerged as a leading figure on the far right in the mid-2010s. movement, which considered the PT as its main enemy.

As president, Bolsonaro pursued a conservative agenda, supported by key evangelical leaders. His government was known for its support of ruthless exploitation of land in the Amazon, leading to record deforestation figures. Environmentalists have warned that the future of the rainforest could be in question in this election.

In his plan, Bolsonaro promises to increase mining, privatize public companies and create more sustainable energy to lower energy prices. He has promised to continue paying R$600 (roughly US$110) a month to Auxilio Brazil.

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

Counting of (mostly electronic) votes begins as soon as polling closes on Sunday.

Brazil’s election officials expect the final results from the first round to be officially announced on the evening of October 2. They will be published on the website of the Election Court.

In the last few elections, the results were officially announced two to three hours after polling. If the leading candidate fails to collect more than half of all valid votes, a second round will be held on October 30.

Observers are watching closely to see if all candidates publicly accept the vote results. Bolsonaro, who has been accused of firing up supporters with violent rhetoric, sought to sow doubts about the result, saying the results should be considered dubious if he did not get “at least 60%”.

He and his conservative Liberal Party have said Brazil’s electronic ballot system is vulnerable to fraud — a completely unsubstantiated charge that has drawn comparisons to former US President Donald Trump’s election fraud claims.

Brazil has had no proven cases of voter fraud on electronic ballots.

The Supreme Election Court has dismissed the claims of flaws in the system as “false and false and has no basis in fact.”

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