Brazil’s general election between incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro and former President Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva will enter its first round today.
Tensions are running particularly high across South America’s largest democracy. Bolsonaro is a highly controversial figure who has established a brand as a redemptive figure seeking to save Brazil from endemic corruption and “left-wing hysteria” of the Lula-led Workers’ Party. Lula, while extremely popular during his tenure as president, has been implicated in multiple corruption scandals, including the now infamous Lavo Jato investigations that helped bring Bolsonaro to power amidst growing resentment at Brazil’s political class.
However, with Bolsonaro trailing his competitor by double-digits in polls, he has questioned the integrity of Brazil’s electronic voting system. In recent weeks, it has stoked instances of political violence between supporters of two different camps. Brazilian election officials and foreign diplomats have publicly committed to recognizing the final result. Given that neither candidate is expected to win in the first round, tensions will likely escalate sharply between now and second round voting at the end of the month.