Brazilians go to the polls in a landmark presidential election

Brazilians go to the polls in a landmark presidential election
People stand in line to cast their votes outside a polling station, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil October 2, 2022. REUTERS/Lucas Landau

In Brazil, current far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has been a polarizing leader since he started his term in 2019. Bolsonaro’s most controversial acts as president revolve around how his administration has contributed to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, dropped the ball on Brazil’s COVID response and tried to undermine Brazilians’ faith in the democratic system. In the unfolding election, his opponent is also a former president of Brazil – leftist Luiz Inácio “Lula" da Silva. This election has been one of the most divisive in the country for decades.

Brazilians headed to the polls on Sunday to cast their votes, where Bolsonaro is up for re-election. So far, this election has been affected by tension and violence in a way that’s never been seen before. Across the country, there have been reports of brutal political clashes, with supporters of either candidate literally killing one another. And both candidates have campaigned while wearing bulletproof vests at times. Most recently, Lula has been the frontrunner in all major polls. But, there’s no clear winner just yet. A winner could be announced within hours of the polls closing around 5 p.m. in Brazil, but if no candidate wins more than half the votes, the top two candidates will head for a run-off on October 30.

Key comments:

Brazil’s former President and presidential candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is greeted after casting his vote during the presidential election, in Sao Bernardo do Campo, on the outskirts of Sao Paulo, Brazil October 2, 2022. REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli

“If we have clean elections, we will win today with at least 60% of the votes," Bolsonaro said in a video posted on his social media before voting. “All the evidence we have is favorable to us. The other side has not been able to take to the streets, has not campaigned, has no acceptance, no credibility."

“It’s an important day for me. Four years ago I couldn’t vote because I was the victim of a lie … I want to try to help my country to return to normal," Lula said, referring to being in jail on a former (now overturned) conviction that he says was politically motivated.

“We’re living under a barbaric government," said voter Adriana Schneider, decked out in Lula stickers.

“I think what’s more likely is that there will be a second round," said political columnist José Roberto de Toledo. “If there’s a second round it will be much worse than it has been thus far. It would mean four weeks of gore. I hope I’m wrong."