Brazil’s presidential election Sunday resulted in an upset as conservative president, Jair Bolsonaro, came in second behind the former socialist president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. With 99.51% of precincts reporting, Lula had 48.31% of the votes with Bolsonaro in a very close second with 43.3%.
In Brazil, if no candidate receives over 50% of the vote, the top two candidates move to a runoff election.
Despite being a convicted felon, Lula performed as well as the polls predicted. Bolsonaro, however, outperformed every poll coming in with almost 10% more of the vote than expected.
In a poll last week by the firm Ipespe and Abaprel 46% of Brazilians that are eligible to vote supported Lula with only 35% supporting Bolsonaro. The difference was even more staggering in the states containing the country’s two largest cities, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, where last week’s IPEC polls predicted Lula would receive 43% and Bolsonaro only 33% of the vote. Instead, Bolsonaro earned a shocking 48% of the vote with Lula coming in behind with only 41%.
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Bolsonaro did exceptionally well in urban areas where Covid-19 lockdowns had been implemented during the pandemic despite his boisterous protests. The staunch conservative ran a campaign focused on fighting corruption, standing against economic lockdowns, and preventing the restriction of civil liberties during the pandemic. Bolsonaro first came to office in 2018 when he won against the socialist candidate, Fernando Haddad.
Lula was unable to run in the 2018 election as he was serving a 25-year sentence in prison for purchasing a beachfront property with public funds while president. Last year Brazil’s highest court, the Supreme Federal Tribunal, reversed the conviction allowing Lula to run in the 2022 election. It has been widely predicted that Lula would have won in 2018 had he been eligible to run for office.
The runoff election is set for October 30th.