Brazil election results: Lula prevails and will contest the second round against a reinforced Bolsonaro | International

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Lula da Silva addresses his supporters after the results of the elections in Brazil.MARIANA GREIF (REUTERS)

The dream of a victory for the Brazilian left in the first round was buried. The president, the far-right Jair Bolsonaro, showed greater strength than predicted by the polls. With 99% counted, former leftist president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, 76, won 48% of the vote, while his rival Bolsonaro, 67, won 43%. Brazil held the most decisive and hard-fought elections in recent decades after a long and bitter electoral campaign punctuated by some episodes of serious political violence, such as the murder of at least two Lula supporters at the hands of Bolsonarists. The Brazilians, who went to the polls to decide whether to impose a turn to the left or deepen the swerve to the extreme right of 2018, have been divided into two halves. None reached 50% plus one of the valid votes necessary to sentence the election now; the duel between Lula and Bolsonaro will be resolved within four Sundays. "We are going to win, this is just an extension," said the leftist with the result already decided.

A victory in the second round for Lula would mean the culmination of the turn to the left that has been taking place in Latin America in the last elections and the possibility of rewriting the final chapters of his personal history, clouded by his time in prison, although his convictions for corruption were annulled. He would also be crucial for the future of the Amazon and for the planet, due to the role he plays as a temperature regulator.

For months, Bolsonaro has criticized polls that consistently put him 10 to 15 points behind Lula. His faithful said that he was being underestimated as in 2018, and so it has been. At the moment of truth, his real support has been greater than predicted. His party, the Liberal (PL), will have the largest parliamentary group and the Bolsonarist landing in the Senate has been powerful. And the gubernatorial candidates in at least three states (Rio de Janeiro, the Federal District and Paraná) sponsored by Bolsonaro have won in the first round. Adenás, his man for the Government of São Paulo, Tarcisio Freitas, a military man who was a minister, will dispute the second round with Fernando Haddad, the closest thing Lula has to a political heir. The polls placed Haddad, former mayor of the metropolis and who lost the presidential elections to Bolsonaro four years ago, far ahead, which made the Workers' Party dream of conquering the richest state in Brazil.

The day has been marked by long queues of voters and, despite how tense the campaign has been, normality has reigned in almost all of Brazil. The most serious incident has been the shooting of a man in a polling station in São Paulo, which has left two policemen with gunshot wounds.

Going to vote, Lula remembered his time in prison. "It's an important day for me," she declared. “Four years ago I couldn't vote because I was the victim of a lie. I want to help my country return to normality”, she added in São Bernardo do Campo (São Paulo), where she was forged as a union and political leader.

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In Brazil, voting is done in an electronic ballot box: citizens type in the number assigned to each candidate, whose photograph the voter can see. This is a method introduced 25 years ago to make life easier for the illiterate and combat fraud. Lula is 13 and Bolsonaro is 22. The system was a national pride, but President Bolsonaro has seriously eroded its credibility. The president has raised doubts until the last minute, always without evidence, against a system that has not suffered any relevant fraud. "If they are clean elections, no problem, may the best win," declared the Brazilian president this Sunday morning when voting in a military village in Rio de Janeiro dressed in a shirt with the national colors. The problem is that a good part of the Bolsonaristas have believed that speech and suspect that the electoral authorities would snatch a possible victory from their leader. Voting is in proof ballot boxes. hacker, not connected to the internet.

That is why Bolsonaro's reaction to the official results is key. The electronic voting system and the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) have been, together with the Lula-Bolsonaro duo, the main protagonists of this campaign. There is a fear that in the face of a result that is not to his liking, the far-rightist will mobilize his supporters in the style of Donald Trump with the assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

The 156 million voters summoned to the polls vote to elect the president, the Chamber of Deputies, a third of the Senate, the governors of the 26 States and the Federal District, in addition to all the state Parliaments. In the case of the president and governors, there is a second round if neither reaches 50% plus one of the valid votes, not counting blanks and null votes. Voting is compulsory, but the fine for those who do not exercise their right is small and abstention is usually around 20%. For the first time, the entire country has voted at the same time, so the count begins when schools close.

After the 13th to vote for Lula and the 22nd for Bolsonaro, there are two completely antagonistic countries.

Bolsonaro's mandate has been quite similar to what his career as an extravagant and nostalgic deputy nostalgic for the dictatorship anticipated. They are almost four years marked by a denialist management of the pandemic and the delay in buying the vaccines. That has been his biggest mistake, the one he is most reproached for by those who dreamed that he would bring profound political change and are now disappointed. Installed in power, Bolsonarism has generated constant tension with other state institutions, especially with the Supreme Court, including more or less veiled coup threats. Halfway through the mandate and to avoid a impeachement he allied himself with the old politics he had promised to end.

Lula's campaign to win his third term as president - he governed between 2003 and 2010 - has been pure nostalgia. The candidate on the left offers his compatriots recipes that worked then, but improved, he usually says. Always ambiguous, he has not gone into details about how he intends to achieve it in an economic situation with signs of improvement, but which has not yet taken off. And meanwhile, his promise that with him Brazil will be happy again has caught on.

Lula leads a 10-party candidacy that ranges from the far left to the center right. And as a vice-presidential candidate he is leading one of his historical adversaries, Geraldo Alkcmin, a traditional center-right figure who softens the profile of those who still see Lula as a radical.

Lula's rallies have been a constant reminder of the best achievements of progressive governments to combat poverty and promote the inclusion and prosperity of the disinherited masses that white elites neglected for centuries. That is why the poor have always remained faithful to the Workers' Party, even in the midst of the worst corruption scandals and when Lula was imprisoned after corruption convictions were later overturned. He was tried by a judge, Sergio Moro, who was not responsible for the case. Moro, who was Bolsonaro's Minister of Justice and broke with him, is seeking a seat in the Senate.

Lula's voter is poor, female, and rather mestizo or black. Instead, the richest, most educated, whites and men prefer Bolsonaro.

The former military man who managed to excite his compatriots with an anti-political discourse, a relentless fight against corruption and a strong hand in security, ended up disillusioning those who voted for him because of the desire for radical change and the liberal agenda in the economy. Instead, the most ideological have remained by his side, the enthusiasts of the anti-communist discourse that sees the left as an irreconcilable enemy, including many defenders of weapons.

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