Elections in Brazil: Ex-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva wins the vote but no overall victory | Brazil

Brazil’s bitter presidential race enters a second round after former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva failed to secure the overall majority he needed to avoid a runoff with far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro.

With 98.1% of the votes counted, the left veteran had garnered 48.04% of the vote, not enough to avoid an Oct. 30 showdown with his right-wing rival. Bolsonaro, who clearly beat pollsters’ predictions and will be buoyed by the result, received 43.54%.

On the eve of the election, Lula said he hoped for a first-round victory but would redouble his efforts to regain power if a second round was needed.

“I have high hopes that this election will be decided tomorrow, but if not then we have to behave like a football team when a game goes into overtime. We’ll rest for 15 minutes and then get back on the field to score the goals we didn’t score in regulation time,” he told reporters.

Gleisi Hoffmann, leader of Lula’s Labor Party, told reporters the campaign was neither “sad nor dejected” about the result, citing Lula’s more than 56 million votes.

“Congratulations, President Lula, on your victory,” she said.

But the election result was a major blow to progressive Brazilians, who were cheering for an emphatic victory over Bolsonaro, a former army captain who has repeatedly attacked the country’s democratic institutions and destroyed Brazil’s international reputation.

Bolsonaro is also accused of devastating the environment and disastrously mishandling a Covid epidemic that has killed nearly 700,000 Brazilians by undermining vaccination and containment efforts and selling quack cures.

When she cast her vote for Lula in São Paulo on Sunday morning, restaurant owner Gabriela Leoncio said of Bolsonaro’s government: “It was a hoax tragedy.”

Even so, Bolsonaro refuted forecasts by pollsters in several key states, including Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

Prominent Bolsonaristas have been elected to Brazil’s Congress and as governors, including Bolsonaro’s former health minister, Eduardo Pazzuelo, who became the congressman for Rio, and his former environment minister, Ricardo Salles.

Rio’s Bolsonaro-supporting governor Cláudio Castro was reelected, while one of Bolsonaro’s most controversial former ministers, evangelical preacher Damares Alves, claimed a seat in the Senate.

Tarcísio de Freitas, Bolsonaro’s nominee for São Paulo’s governorship, also did better than pollsters predicted, facing Lula ally Fernando Haddad in a second round.

“The right-wing extremists will be thrilled,” said political scientist Christian Lynch.

Thiago Amparo, academic and columnist for the Folha de São Paulo newspaper, said the stronger-than-expected outcry from the right shows that Bolsonaro and Bolsonarismo are “alive and alive”.

“There was a feeling on the left that Lula had a chance to win in the first round… The results show that it was wishful thinking to imagine that the election would serve to punish Bolsonaro for his disastrous policies during the pandemic . ”

“I feel exhausted,” Amparo added. “But the results show that we don’t have time to rest now. It’s time to take to the streets…or else we’re going to have a very dark future again.”

“I think Bolsonaro has the momentum,” said Thomas Traumann, a political observer from Rio de Janeiro, although he believed Lula was still the favourite. “It’s a very disappointing night for the left.”

There was resistance from Lula and his allies as the right-wing achievements and the need for a second round became clear.