By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
BRASILIA (Worthy News) – Brazil’s tense presidential elections pitting right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro against left-wing former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, known as Lula, was heading for a run-off vote, electoral authorities confirmed Sunday.
President Bolsonaro’s surprising strength in the first round spoiled rival Lula’s hopes of winning outright. With nearly electronic votes counted, Lula was ahead with 48.4 percent of the ballots cast versus 43.3 percent for Bolsonaro, results showed.
As neither got a majority of support, the race will go to a second-round vote on October 30.
Yet Bolsonaro, a controversial figure, had questioned polls that showed him losing to Lula in the first round. He said they did not capture his enthusiasm on the campaign trail.
The president also attacked the integrity of Brazil’s electronic voting system and suggested he might not concede if he lost.
Several opinion surveys had shown the leftist Lula, who was president from 2003 to 2010, leading the far-right Bolsonaro by 10-15 percentage points ahead of Sunday’s vote.
With a world in crisis, many voters flocked to Lula, remembered as a leftwinger who introduced radical anti-poverty measures during his two terms in office.
But the much tighter result dashed hopes of a quick resolution to a deeply polarized election in the world’s fourth-Largest democracy.
Bolsonaro, seen by critics as a hardline nationalist, has reportedly received support from many evangelical Christians who fear more abortions, drugs, and transgender policies under Lula’s reign.
“Being [Bolsonaro] means representing God, patriotism, the family, and freedom. Being [Lula] means supporting abortion, the legalization of drugs, gender ideology, and narco-trafficking,” said Alexandre Martins, a former drugs-fighting police officer.
The devoted Christian, who runs for a place in Rio’s parliament for Bolsonaro’s conservative Liberal party, denies the president is encouraging extremism.
“We’re fighting for a better country,” Martins told The Guardian newspaper. “There’s nothing extremist about that.”
However, there have been violent incidents leading up to the ballot. For instance, a supporter of President Bolsonaro was stabbed to death last month, but a backer of leftist former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
Police said Rafael Silva de Oliveira, 24, killed Benedito Cardoso dos Santos, 42, by stabbing him with a knife. And in July, rival Lula’s party treasurer Marcelo de Arruda was shot and killed at his 50th birthday party by a supporter of President Bolsonaro, authorities said.
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