Lula Should Still Win Brazil’s Presidential Race. But Bolsonaro Is Alarmingly Strong.
Lula won the first round of Brazil’s presidential election yesterday and should beat Jair Bolsonaro in the runoff later this month. But Bolsonaro and his allies outperformed expectations — and Brazil’s far right remains a potent threat to democracy.
Yesterday, October 2, Brazilians went to the polling booths to decide their next president, 27 governors, a third of the Senate, 513 congresspeople, and thousands of state and local officials.
During the campaign, the left-wing former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva led in all polls against the far-right incumbent, President Jair Bolsonaro. Though victory in the first round for Lula was never guaranteed, analysts were confident that Lula would hold a wide margin over his opponent, with other important positions, such as the governorships of São Paulo and Minas Gerais, also in play to be retaken by the Left.
However, Bolsonaro outperformed his own polling scores and secured a second-round runoff, pulling further ahead than expected in key states such as São Paulo, Minas Gerais, and Rio. By the end of the day, Lula had 48.4 percent of the vote to Bolsonaro’s 43.2 percent.
With Bolsonarist candidates securing a large number of senatorial and congressional seats as well as governorships, the Brazilian right’s brand of reactionary conservatism shows no sign of running out of steam. How did this happen?