Bolsonaro and Lula close campaign on the eve of the ballot in Brazil

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Rio de Janeiro (AFP) – The campaign for the ballot in Brazil comes to an end this Saturday with a fight in the streets between the far-right president Jair Bolsonaro and the leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who starts with an advantage in the polls for the election on Sunday.

After facing each other in the last televised debate on Friday night, in which both accused each other incessantly of lying, each one will go to meet the voters at key points for their aspirations.

Lula prevailed in the first round with 48% of the votes against 43% for Bolsonaro, a result that broke the projections that anticipated a comfortable advantage for the former president.

In Thursday’s survey by the Datafolha Institute, the left-wing leader is ahead with 53% against 47%. This Saturday, he will publish the latest poll.

Bolsonaro, 67, will lead a caravan of motorcyclists in Belo Horizonte, the capital of Minas Gerais (southeast), the second largest electoral district in the country after Sao Paulo.

Supporters of former Brazilian President and candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva at a campaign rally in Rio de Janeiro on October 28, 2022. Pablo PORCIUNCULA AFP

The president is seeking reelection after a four-year term marked especially by the health and economic crisis that triggered the pandemic and that killed 688,000 people in Brazil and his tense relations with the institutions.

In the final stretch towards the ballot, he has presented the slow recovery of activity as achievements of his government, mainly the recent drop in inflation and the drop in unemployment, which stood at 8.7% in September.

And “that with a pandemic and a war that affects the entire world economy (…) There is still a lot to do,” he wrote on his Twitter account.

Supporters of Brazilian President and re-election candidate Jair Bolsonaro at an evangelical event at the Esplanade of Ministries in Brasilia on October 28, 2022
Supporters of Brazilian President and re-election candidate Jair Bolsonaro at an evangelical event at the Esplanade of Ministries in Brasilia on October 28, 2022 EVARISTO SA AFP

Bolsonaro plans to close his visit with a demonstration, while his opponent will concentrate his last effort in Sao Paulo.

“Victory Walk”

Lula, who at the age of 77 recently aspires to return to power after governing Latin America’s leading economy between 2003 and 2010, is preparing the so-called “victory walk” along the emblematic Paulista Avenue.

“Brazil needs a government that once again takes care of our people, especially those who need it most. It needs peace, democracy and dialogue,” Lula wrote in a letter addressed to voters, in which he attacked the country of “hate, lies , the intolerance” that according to him Bolsonaro embodies.

Elections in Brazil: Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
Elections in Brazil: Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva Nicolas RAMALLO AFP

Except for changes in their agendas, both candidates plan to close a tense contest in Brazil loaded with grievances and misinformation, especially through social networks.

On Sunday some 156 million Brazilians are called to vote in the country’s 26 states and the federal district.

In the first round, around 32 million did not vote (21%). The number is five times the advantage of six million votes that Lula obtained over Bolsonaro.

A motorbike adorned with a poster bearing the face of former Brazilian president and candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva at a campaign rally in Rio de Janeiro on October 28, 2022.
A motorbike adorned with a poster bearing the face of former Brazilian president and candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva at a campaign rally in Rio de Janeiro on October 28, 2022. Pablo PORCIUNCULA AFP

In Brazil, voting is compulsory, but the fine for not going to the polls is 3.5 reais (0.50 US cents).

The final duel between Bolsonaro and Lula will take place in the midst of the expectation of a tight result that can increase the tension and polarization of the country.

After his two terms, Lula was imprisoned in the framework of the “Lava Jato” anti-corruption mega-cause, but was politically resurrected after the annulment of his convictions for procedural irregularities.

Bolsonaro is seeking re-election with the support above all of agribusiness and the majority of evangelicals – a third of the electorate – who praise his ultra-conservative positions.

Elections in Brazil: Jair Bolsonaro
Elections in Brazil: Jair Bolsonaro Nicolas RAMALLO AFP

On Friday, the president received the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, with whom he is often compared.

“VOTE for President JAIR BOLSONARO – HE WILL NEVER LET YOU DOWN!” he wrote on his Truth Social platform. “His opponent, ‘Lulu,’ is a radical leftist lunatic who will quickly destroy his country and all the tremendous progress that has been made under President Bolsonaro,” Trump added.

Bolsonaro and Lula close campaign on the eve of the ballot in Brazil