Former left-wing president Lula, presidential favorite, voted early Sunday in the first round, wishing to see Brazil “return to normality” after four years in office of far-right president Jair Bolsonaro. The 156 million Brazilian voters have started voting for a presidential election under tension that Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva hopes to win in this first round against President Bolsonaro, who could contest the result.
“We want a country at peace”
Lula, 76, wearing a navy suit, voted in Sao Bernardo do Campo, a working-class suburb of Sao Paulo. “We no longer want hatred, discord. We want a country at peace,” he said, referring to the fractures in the country. Voting soon after in Rio de Janeiro, Bolsonaro, 67, dressed in the yellow and green jersey of the national football team under which he wore a bulletproof vest, further cast doubt on a possible dispute of the result. “If the elections are clean, no problem. May the best win!”, declared the head of state, who has multiplied criticism of the electronic ballot box system.
In Datafolha’s latest poll on Saturday night, Lula gets 50% of valid votes against Bolsonaro’s 36%. Queues began to form outside the polling stations, with voters often dressed in the yellow and green national colors adopted by the Bolsonarists, or the red of the Lulists. “I am a Christian, I only vote for candidates who agree with what is written in the Bible, so I vote Bolsonaro,” said Aldeyze dos Santos, 40, a housewife interviewed by AFP. Brasília. But in Rio de Janeiro, Kaia Ferrari, a 67-year-old retired psychologist, launches, laconic: “I hate Bolsonaro”.
Towards a comeback of Lula?
For this crucial election for the future of the young democracy in Brazil, the clash at the Lula-Bolsonaro summit relegated the nine other candidates to the rank of extras. “The question is whether there will be a second round or not, and it’s impossible to predict,” Adriano Laureno, an analyst at consultants Prospectiva, told AFP.
A victory for Lula, who has marked Brazilian political life for half a century and is competing for his sixth presidential election, would mark an unexpected comeback four years after his controversial imprisonment on suspicion of corruption. For many Brazilians, the election of Lula in the first round would “end it” and escape four more weeks of campaigning at loggerheads until a second round on October 30. A second round could allow the populist Bolsonaro to galvanize his troops and find new momentum.
On his Twitter account, he posted messages of support from his rare allies: former US President Donald Trump, who calls on Brazilians to “re-elect one of the greatest presidents in the world”, as well as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban or former Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanayou.