Guardian reporters on the ground in Brazil addressed voters in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro on Sunday:
“I feel optimistic but also terrified, like all Brazilians who support democracy and the Amazon,” said Tica Minami, an environmental activist who considered voting for Lula.
“We want to start rebuilding, but that will only be possible once Bolsonaro leaves power,” Minami added.
“The future is at stake here. We cannot let Bolsonaro be re-elected,” said 19-year-old Tales Takezo, one of thousands of Lula supporters who packed the city’s most famous avenue on Saturday afternoon. São Paulo for the last act of the left’s campaign, the “march to victory”.
“We have to fight until the very end, and we are still fighting because the fight is not over,” added Takezo.
In Barra da Tijuca, a stronghold of Bolsonaro support in Rio de Janeiro, Rubens Francisco Dias Filho voted wearing Brazil’s yellow soccer jersey, which has become a symbol of Bolsonaro’s nationalist movement.
“I am optimistic. You can see on the street that a huge majority supports Bolsonaro. We are however concerned that there is fraud,” the 52-year-old commercial director said, echoing Bolsonaro’s unfounded claims that the system of Brazil’s electronic voting is vulnerable to fraud.
A glimmer of hope from Guardian Latin America correspondent Tom Phillips. Lula is currently (just) ahead in the flagship state of Minas Gerais:
Your little anecdote for the day is that the term “indicator” comes from the head sheep of a flock, which would have a bell on its neck.
Despite Brazil being the fourth-largest democracy in the world, the results of more than 150 million eligible voters are presented just hours after the polls close, thanks to the country’s electronic voting system. And no significant fraud has ever been detected.
Electronic machines were first used in 1996 and the first electronic-only national vote took place four years later.
Brazilian authorities have adopted electronic voting machines to combat longstanding fraud. In previous elections, ballot boxes have arrived at polling stations already crammed with votes. Others were stolen and individual votes were systematically tampered with, according to Brazil’s electoral authority.
Before the first round of voting, President Jair Bolsonaro was worried about the country’s electronic voting system. He has long insisted that the machines, which have been in use for a quarter of a century, are prone to fraud, although he acknowledged last year that this has not been proven.
Brazil’s top electoral authority says the system has been rigorously tested.
Bolsonaro’s lead increased to 2.6% with 25% of districts counted, from 2.2% with one-fifth of districts counted. But again, this may not be indicative of the end result – Bolsonaro supporters are concentrated in urban areas, which are quicker to report:
Guardian Latin America correspondent Tom Phillips explains:
The results are coming fast and with a fifth of the districts counted, Bolsonaro has taken an early lead.
The far-right incumbent is ahead by just over two points:
Because results come more quickly from urban seats, where Bolsonaro’s supporters are concentrated, he is expected to take an early lead. But polls give Lula a four-point lead overall, so he could pull ahead in the coming hours.
Lula’s Workers’ Party generally gets stronger support in regions that are slow to publish results. The results followed the same pattern in the first round.
Since 2019, far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro has led an administration marked by inflammatory rhetoric, its testing of democratic institutions, its widely criticized handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and the worst deforestation of the Amazon rainforest in 15 years.
But he has built a dedicated base by championing conservative values, pushing back against political correctness and portraying himself as protecting the nation from leftist policies he says undermine individual freedoms and produce economic turmoil.
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, known as Lula, became the country’s first working-class president in 2002.
Lula resigned after serving two terms in 2010 with approval ratings close to 90%. But the following decade saw the Workers’ Party (PT) he helped found embroiled in a tangle of corruption scandals and blamed for plunging Brazil into a brutal recession.
His seemingly irretrievable downfall was cemented in 2018 when he was jailed for corruption and barred from running in that year’s election, which Bolsonaro went on to win. Lula’s 580-day imprisonment seemed like the melancholic end to a fairy-tale life that saw him rise from rural poverty to become one of the world’s most popular leaders.
But Lula was released at the end of 2019 and his convictions were overturned on the grounds that he had been unfairly tried by Sérgio Moro, a right-wing judge who went on to hold a position in Bolsonaro’s cabinet.
Lula, who first ran for president in 1989, announced his sixth presidential election in May, promising to beat Bolsonaro by staging “the greatest peaceful revolution the world has ever seen”.
Voting is closed in Brazil, where it is early Sunday evening.
The results will start rolling in quickly, and we’ll likely know the winner in a few hours – or around midnight in Rio de Janeiro.
Brazil’s electronic voting system means ballots are counted quickly (and accurately).
The future of one of the world’s largest democracies and the Amazon rainforest was on a knife edge as Brazil held its most important election in decades and its far-right President Jair Bolsonaro struggled to cling to power as security forces engaged in a pro-Bolsonaro voter suppression campaign.
Polls on the eve of the election had shown Bolsonaro trailing his leftist rival, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, by a margin of four to eight percentage points, although first-round polls had underestimated support for the incumbent president. Lula recently won the first round with around 6 million votes, but fell just short of the overall majority that would have guaranteed him an outright victory.
“For many people it will be a very special day in the history of Brazil,” Lula told reporters as he voted in São Bernardo do Campo, the industrial city where the former labor leader began his political career. in the 1970s.
Tens of millions of progressive Brazilians hoped he was right when they turned out to vote against a radical right-wing president whom they accuse of catastrophically mishandling the coronavirus pandemic and wreaking havoc on the environment and Brazil’s international reputation.
Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the results of the second round of elections in Brazil. My name is Helen Sullivan and I’ll bring you the latest as it comes. If you have any questions or see any news you think I might have missed, you can find me on Twitter here.
With 156 million voters, Brazil is one of the largest democracies in the world and this is its most important election in decades, with progressives hoping Jair Bolsonaro will be overthrown by leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in what would be one of the greatest political comebacks in history.
This is the second and final round of voting after Lula, who polls predicted would win an outright majority, won the first round but failed to secure an overall majority. Bolsonaro’s support has been stronger than expected and, with reports of notoriously pro-Bolsonaro roadblocks being set up in Lula’s strongholds, there are very real fears that the far-right incumbent could retain his position.
Polls put Lula, as he is known, ahead of Bolsonaro by four points. A former labor leader who lost three presidential elections before finally winning in 2002, the 77-year-old leftist ruled the country for eight years before stepping down from power with approval ratings above 80%.
Bolsonaro’s botched handling of the pandemic has claimed nearly 700,000 lives in Brazil and under his watch, deforestation in the Amazon has reached its highest level in 15 years.
We’ll have more on the candidates, the run-off campaign and bring you live results as they come in.