Brazil to hold second round of its presidential election

Brazil will hold the second round of its presidential election today. Incumbent ultraconservative President Jair Bolsonaro is being challenged by

Brazil presidential election

Brazil will begin the second round of its presidential election today – Photo: Reuters/Mariana Greif

Brazil will hold the second round of its presidential election today.

Incumbent ultraconservative President Jair Bolsonaro is being challenged by former Leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva—favored heavily in pre-election polling. However, Lula only obtained 48.4% of first-round votes, thus falling short of the necessary 50% to win outright and avoid a run-off. Bolsonaro outperformed expectations with 43.2% of the vote.

The election is a dead heat. While Lula continues to hold polling leads over his populist rival, that lead has narrowed significantly in the past month. Bolsonaro’s strong first-round performance was courtesy of a late swing from minor party supporters rightward, giving him momentum leading up to today’s vote.

A Bolsonaro win will continue the pro-business, anti-environmental agenda derided by environmentalists in the Amazon rainforest, as well as ultraconservative policies which have earned him massive support from evangelicals. Lula has promised a repeat of his 2003-2010 presidency—marked by major economic growth—which allowed significant spending on poverty alleviation. However, his party’s corruption scandals have tainted his legacy and his agenda will be severely curtailed by both houses of Congress controlled by right-wing blocs full of Bolsonaro loyalists. Either way, expect ongoing polarization in Brazil in the medium term.