Polls opened on Sunday in the second round of Brazil’s presidential election between former left-wing leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, which has seen polls narrow considerably in recent weeks. .
Voting will continue until 5 p.m. in Brazil’s capital, Brasilia, with the country’s electronic voting system confirming the results about two hours after voting ends.
Neither Lula nor Bolsonaro won more than 50% of the vote in the first round on October 2, forcing Sunday’s ballot.
Lula finished top of the initial contest, winning more than 6 million votes and about 5 percentage points, more than Bolsonaro. However, the president remained in the lead in crucial southeastern states such as São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
Brazil has more than 156 million people eligible to vote in elections, and voting is compulsory in the country for everyone between the ages of 18 and 70. Candidates vote early Sunday; Lula is expected to vote in a public school in the São Paulo metropolitan area, according to their press offices.
Bolsonaro cast his vote in Rio de Janeiro early Sunday morning. Wearing a yellow and green T-shirt, the colors of the Brazilian flag, Bolsonaro said: “God willing, we will be victorious later today. Or better yet, Brazil will be victorious,” as he cast his vote at a polling station in the city’s Maréchal Hermès neighborhood.
Bolsonaro is expected to travel to the capital Brasilia where he will follow the voting and tabulation of the results from the official presidential residence, the Alvorada Palace, a presidential statement said on Friday.
The election comes amid a tense and polarized political climate in Brazil. The country is currently struggling with high inflation, limited growth and growing poverty.
A poll by Datafolha on Saturday found that 52% of Brazilians would vote for Lula, while 48% would choose Bolsonaro, indicating a narrowing of opinion polls in the weeks leading up to the vote.
Both candidates have used this election to attack every turn, and growing anger has eclipsed polls and clashes between their supporters have left many voters scared of what lies ahead.
Voters in Sao Paulo told CNN they want to end this election season as soon as possible so the country can move forward.
Lula da Silva was president for two terms, from 2003 to 2006 and from 2007 to 2011, where he led the country through a commodity boom that helped fund huge social welfare programs and lift millions of people from poverty.
He left office with a 90% approval rating – a record tarnished, however, by Brazil’s biggest corruption probe, dubbed ‘Operation Car Wash’, which has led to charges against hundreds of politicians and officials. high-ranking businessmen across Latin America. He was convicted of corruption and money laundering in 2017, but a court overturned his conviction in March 2021, paving the way for his political rebound.
Bolsonaro ran for president in 2018 with the conservative Liberal Party, campaigning as a political underdog and anti-corruption candidate, and earning the nickname “Trump of the Tropics”. A divisive figure, Bolsonaro has become known for his bombastic statements and his conservative agenda, which is backed by prominent evangelical leaders in the country.
But poverty grew during his presidency and his popularity took a hit from his handling of the pandemic, which he called a “little flu”, before the virus killed more than 680,000 people in the country.
Bolsonaro’s government has 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.