The Guardian’s Latin America correspondent Tom Phillips reports from outside Lula’s hotel, where his lead over Bolsonaro was recently announced:
There were scenes of joy outside Lula’s hotel as the news was reported. “I feel inexplicable emotion. It’s like a World Cup final,” said Liliane Carvalho, a 41-year-old activist wearing a red cap emblazoned with the slogan: “Make Lula President Again.”
Carvalho said she was convinced Lula was heading for a first round victory. But Brazil’s top pollster, DataFolha, is now predicting the presidential election will go to a second round on 30 October.
The polling company Datafolha is predicting that the election will go to a second-round on 30 October, which means Lula will have failed to gain more than 50% of the vote in this round – a surprising result given pre-polling that showed the leftwing frontrunner securing a comfortable win.
If you’re just joining us, Brazilians voted Sunday in a highly polarised election that could determine if the country returns a leftist to the helm of the world’s fourth-largest democracy or keeps the far-right incumbent in office for another four years.
With 70% of the vote counted, frontrunner and former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of the Workers Party was just ahead of incumbent far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.
The winner needs to secure more than 50% of the vote to avoid a run-off election. If the election goes to runoff, it will happen on 30 October.
Recent opinion polls have given da Silva (known as Lula) a commanding lead. The last Datafolha survey published Saturday found a 50% to 36% advantage for da Silva among those who intended to vote. It interviewed 12,800 people, with a margin of error of two percentage points.
After a nail-biting first hour of counting –and with another tense hour or so to go – leftwing frontrunner Lula has overtaken Bolsonaro in the Brazilian presidential elections.
Lula currently has 45.74% of the vote, to Bolsonaro’s 45.51%.
The Guardian’s Tom Philips reports from outside Lula’s hotel in São Paulo:
We’re expecting Lula to overtake Bolsonaro any minute now – but that won’t mean its over. Lula needs more than 50% to win outright – less than that, and he will have to fight Bolsonaro in a runoff election later this month.
Polls had predicted an outright win for Lula, but a runoff is now looking possible.
In order to be declared the winner, a presidential candidate in Brazil needs to gain more than 50% of the vote.
Polls on the eve of the election suggested Lula – who governed from 2003 to 2010 – was tantalisingly close to securing the overall majority of votes he needs to avoid a second-round runoff against Bolsonaro in late October. One poll gave Lula 51% to Bolsonaro’s 37%, another gave them 50% and 36% respectively.
Results are coming in fast, and Bolsonaro continues to lose ground. For the first time since counting started, he now leads by less than 1%.
Narrower still – Lula is closing in on Bolsonaro, with the margin now 1.3%.
Via Tom Phillips, the Guardian’s Latin America correspondent.
With more than 50% of votes counted, Bolsonaro is still ahead.
The last Datafolha survey published Saturday found a 50% to 36% advantage for da Silva among those who intended to vote. It interviewed 12,800 people.
Bolsonaro’s lead is steadily dwindling, however. It is now less than 2%.
Bolsonaro’s lead over Lula looks like it is closing as votes from traditionally pro-Lula areas, such as the northeast of Brazil, are tallied.
The Guardian’s Latin America correspondent, Tom Phillips, reports that there is “Real tension in the air at Lula’s vote count gathering in São Paulo, but his supporters are confident that the tables are starting to turn. The question is will they turn enough for Lula to avoid a second round.”
Lula immersed himself in the labour movement and in 1979 led a series of historic strikes, cementing his position as Brazil’s most famous union leader and paving the way for the creation of the Workers’ party (PT) Lula leads to this day.
After claiming power in 2002, Lula used the windfall from a commodities boom to help millions of citizens escape poverty and became a respected international statesman, helping Brazil secure the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.
“He made Brazil a significant player on the world scene … Brazil was a serious country – it helped create the G20, it established relations … with the Brics [Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa]. Brazilians were nominated to run the WTO and the FAO,” said Richard Bourne, Lula’s British biographer.
Lula left power in 2010 with approval ratings nearing 90%. But the following decade was a brutal one for the leftist and his party. The PT became embroiled in a series of sprawling corruption scandals and was blamed for plunging Brazil into a savage recession. Lula’s successor, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached in 2016 in what many supporters called a political “coup”.
With 40% of votes counted, Bolsonaro is still ahead of Lula, but by a smaller and smaller margin as more results come in – leftwing frontrunner Lula is trailing the far-right incumbent by just 2.85%:
Scottish journalist Andrew Downie reports for the Guardian from São Paulo:
Jair Bolsonaro got some encouraging news in the capital Brasilia, where his former minister Damares Alves was elected Senator. With 90% of the votes counted, Damares had 45%, well ahead of Flavia Arruda on 26.8%.
The lawyer and evangelical pastor has been one of Bolsonaro’s most fervent supporters, named as Minister for Women, Family and Human Rights in a controversial decision in December 2018.
She courted controversy just days later when she said a new era had begun in which “boys wear blue and girls wear pink.”
She also said that when she was 10 years old she was going to drink poison and kill herself but saw Jesus climbing a goiaba tree. The revelation, she said, saved her life.
The Senate race was seen as one of those to watch on a day when 27 of Brazil’s 81 Senators face re-election and a surprise given that just last week a TV Globo poll put the two leading candidates, both of whom were ministers under Bolsonaro, tied on 28%.
Here is more on that early lead for Bolsonaro, via Reuters:
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro took an early lead in the initial tally of the country’s presidential election on Sunday, ahead of challenger Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (Lula), whose Workers Party draws more support from regions that are slower to report.
With 20% of electronic voting machines counted, Bolsonaro was ahead with 48% of the votes against 43% for Lula, the national electoral authority said on its website.
In 2014, when the leftist Workers Party (PT) last won a presidential election, its advantage only appeared after two hours of vote counting. Results from Brazil’s poorer northeast, a traditional PT stronghold, often take longer to reach the TSE.
There were reports of long lines at voting stations that closed at 5pm (2000 GMT) as many Brazilians turned out to vote in a tense election, punctuated by isolated violence and fears over a sharp uptick in gun ownership under Bolsonaro.
Most opinion polls have shown Lula with a 10-15% lead, but Bolsonaro has signalled he may refuse to accept defeat, stoking fears of institutional crisis. If Lula wins over 50% of valid votes, which several pollsters show within reach, he would clinch an outright victory, foregoing a run-off.
If no candidate wins over half of the votes, excluding blank and spoiled ballots, the top two go to a 30 October run-off.
With that, here is more on Lula, the man expected to defeat far-right Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro.
Lula is one of Latin America’s most influential and enduring politicians – a silver-tongued statesman Barack Obama once hailed as “the most popular president on Earth”.
But had it not been for a chiding from Fidel Castro nearly four decades ago, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva might well have abandoned what would prove one of the most storied political careers the region has ever known.
“He gave him a bollocking,” Lula’s biographer and friend, Fernando Morais, said of the moment the Cuban revolutionary took the Brazilian unionist to task for considering throwing in the towel after failing in his bid to become São Paulo’s governor in 1982.
“Listen, Lula … You don’t have the right to abandon politics. You don’t have the right to do this to the working class,” Castro told the Brazilian during a trip to Havana, according to Morais’s bestselling biography. “Get back into politics!”
Lula’s chronicler believes it was a pivotal moment in the life of his 76-year-old subject, who took his Cuban host’s advice to heart.
Some sharp-eyed readers have pointed out that int he screenshot I posted of the results, lula’s name has been replaced with the word “squid” (the word “Lula” means squid in Portuguese). This message is brought to you by Google Translate.