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Lula and Bolsonaro will face each other in a second round of the presidential elections in Brazil: NPR

A street stall sells towels to presidential candidates Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Jair Bolsonaro on September 25 in São Paulo, Brazil.

Gustavo Minas/Getty Images


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A street stall sells towels to presidential candidates Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Jair Bolsonaro on September 25 in São Paulo, Brazil.

Gustavo Minas/Getty Images

SÃO PAULO, Brazil – Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a former leftist president, finished first in Brazil’s presidential election on Sunday but failed to garner enough votes for an outright victory and will face right-wing incumbent Jair Bolsonaro in October. . 30 escapes.

Despite pre-election polls giving da Silva, widely known as Lula, a double-digit lead, the contest was exciting. Indeed, since Silva trailed for much of the night before finally inching up and winning with roughly 47.9% of the vote, with roughly 97% of the vote counted. President Bolsonaro came in second with around 43.6% in the 11-candidate race.

Sunday’s vote was largely peaceful after a contentious, sometimes violent campaign in which Brazil’s democracy appeared to be at stake. Bolsonaro, who has praised Brazil’s past military dictatorship, repeatedly questioned the legitimacy of the election as it approached and flagged opinion poll numbers for him.

“Lula represents democracy,” said Julia Sottili, a museum worker who voted for da Silva because of what she described as Bolsonaro’s authoritarian tendencies. “Lula wants to improve people’s lives and end hunger. He is really concerned about human rights.”

The campaign will now continue for the next four weeks.


Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks during an electoral rally in Manaus, Brazil, on August 31.

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Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks during an electoral rally in Manaus, Brazil, on August 31.

Michael Dantas/AFP via Getty Images

Pre-election polls place da Silva very close to winning the presidency in the first round, obtaining more than half of the votes. But it fell short, with Brazil now facing four more weeks of intense campaigning.

Still, the result was something of a vindication for da Silva, who became a hero to many Brazilians during his two terms as president from 2003 to 2010, when a commodity-driven economic boom helped lift millions out of poverty. poverty.

However, after leaving office, he was embroiled in a wide-ranging corruption scandal that landed him in prison for a year and a half. His political career seemed to be over. Then, in a surprising reversal, he was released on a technicality in 2019 and launched his campaign for the presidency, the sixth time he has run for office.

Instead, Bolsonaro’s second-place finish on Sunday was a sobering result for the president whose erratic behavior and policy decisions cost him support.


Brazilian President and presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro greets supporters during a rally at Praca do Santuario on September 23 in Divinopolis, Brazil.

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Brazilian President and presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro greets supporters during a rally at Praca do Santuario on September 23 in Divinopolis, Brazil.

Fred Magno/Getty Images

Bolsonaro was brought to power four years ago by a coalition that included evangelical Christians, gun owners and other conservatives who were drawn to his commitment to upholding traditional family values ​​and who were angered by the corruption scandals surrounding da Silva. and his left. Workers Party.

But Bolsonaro, 67, has had a difficult four years in office. He downplayed the COVID-19 pandemic and Brazil ended up with the second-highest number of COVID deaths in the world after the US. It is grappling with a stagnant economy, high inflation and unemployment, and rising poverty.

Bolsonaro spent months questioning the integrity of Brazil’s electoral system, asking the military to oversee vote counting and hinting that he could not leave power even if he lost. In the hours before the vote, he posted on his Twitter account a video of former President Donald Trump urging people to vote for him.

All of this provided an opportunity for da Silva, now 76 and a throat cancer survivor. On the campaign trail, he promised to return to the good economic times of his first two terms and presented himself as the man who could save Brazil’s democracy by defeating Bolsonaro.

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