Polls close in Brazil’s tight presidential election runoff
Polls closed Sunday in Brazil’s presidential election runoff between former leftist leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and the far-right current President Jair Bolsonaro, which has seen the incumbent slightly erode the lead of his challenger in latest opinion surveys.
After opening early Sunday morning, polls closed at 5 p.m. local time (4 p.m. ET), with the country’s electronic ballot system set to confirm results about two hours after the voting concludes.
Neither Lula da Silva or Bolsonaro gained over 50% of the votes in the first round on October 2, forcing Sunday’s runoff vote.
Lula finished ahead in the initial contest, earning over 6 million votes, and about 5 percentage points, more than Bolsonaro. However, the President stayed ahead in the crucial southeastern states such as São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
Brazil has more than 156 million people eligible to vote in the election, and voting is mandatory in the country for all people between 18 and 70 years of age. Candidates voted early on Sunday, with Lula voting at a public school in the São Paulo metro Area.
Bolsonaro cast his ballot in Rio de Janeiro early on Sunday morning. Wearing a yellow and green T-shirt, the colors of the Brazilian flag, Bolsonaro said “God willing, we’ll be victorious later today. Or even better, Brazil will be victorious,” as he voted at a polling station in the Marechal Hermes district of the city.
Lula da Silva supporters thronged São Paulo Avenida Paulista on Sunday evening after polls closed. The mood was celebratory even before the results were called, with street-side vendors selling beer and food.
The election comes amid a tense and polarized political climate in Brazil. The country is currently struggling with high inflation, limited growth and rising poverty.
A poll by Datafolha on Saturday found that 52% of Brazilians would vote for Lula, while 48% would pick Bolsonaro, indicating a narrowing of opinion polls in the weeks leading up to the vote.