Polling stations closed on Sunday in the runoff race between far-right President Jair Bolsonaro and leftist former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to be Brazil’s next leader.
No exit polls are provided in Sunday’s election, but preliminary official results are expected shortly after voting ends, as the country uses electronic voting machines. Results will continue to trickle in across the South American country, which spans four time zones.
The runoff presidential vote is set to be one of the most hotly contested elections in Brazil’s history.
Results from Sunday’s election will determine if Brazil will remain on Bolsonaro’s far-right political course, or whether leftist da Silva will return to the country’s top post.
Sunday’s vote was also marred by widespread allegations of potential voter suppression amid police roadblocks in northeastern Brazil.
DW has an overview of the latest on election day.
Lula’s party accuses federal police of voter suppression
Members of Lula da Silva’s political party PT called on the Justice Ministry to intervene in what they claimed were attempts by police forces to systematically roadblock PT supporters and prevent them from casting their ballots.
“What is happening in the North-East is unacceptable,” Lula said on his Telegram channel.
NGO Human Rights Watch echoed the concerns expressed by activists on the ground and various PT members. The organization called on police authorities to adhere to a ruling by the country’s top court banning all police operations that could hinder the ability of voters to transport themselves to the polls.
Superior Electoral Court chief Alexandre de Moraes responded to the allegations just one and a half hours before polls closed. “A decision was taken to end these operations to avoid the delay of voters,” Moraes told a press conference.
But he also said that such operations had not caused voter suppression. Moraes also rejected a call to keep polls open, saying that “no bus was turned back and all could vote.”
Social democracy ‘is opposite of what Bolsonaro thinks,’ voter tells DW
Expat voters in Germany voiced concerns about a win for Bolsonaro in comments to DW’s Portuguese for Brazil service.
“What I notice above all from the Brazilian friends I have here: they are Brazilians who chose to emigrate to Germany — especially those who arrived recently, like me, 2.5 years ago — because they expect a social democracy,” one woman told DW outside a voting site in the city of Cologne.
“A country where the state still has a presence, a state that cares about its people, about its citizens. And they are people who value everything that this state can give to the citizen, which is the opposite of what Bolsonaro thinks,” she added.
Expat line up to vote in Germany
Brazilians living in Germany waited in long lines in several German cities on Sunday to cast their votes in he presidential runoff.
Voters waited outside the Brazilian Embassy in Berlin, with the queues at times stretching down the street. Polls were open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (0700 UTC to 1600 UTC).
DW’s Portuguese for Brazil service reported that voting for Brazilian expats moved faster in the German capital on Sunday than it did during the first round.
Long lines were also seen in the western city of Cologne, where a mobile consulate was established. Cologne has the largest Brazilian community in Germany, with some 15,000 Brazilians living in the region.
Germany has one of the largest pools of Brazilian expat voters in Europe, alongside Portugal, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Italy and Spain.
In the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, an estimated 7,500 voters showed up before the polls opened to secure their space in line.
Candidates cast their votes
The incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro cast his ballot in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday morning wearing the green and yellow colors of the Brazilian flag.
“God willing, we will be victorious later today,” he said after voting. “Or even better, Brazil will be victorious.”
Shortly afterwards, Lula da Silva cast his vote in Sao Bernardo do Campo. He said he was confident in the “victory of democracy” after voting.
“One of the dreams that made me become a candidate in this election was to restore peace among Brazilians,” he told reporters, dressed in a white shirt.
Observers expect a close outcome
Lula da Silva, the two-term former president who was jailed for 18 months a corruption conviction that was later thrown out, has comfortably led opinion polls in past months.
However, Bolsonaro performed much better than expected in the first round of voting on October 2. He received 43.2% of the votes behind Lula’s 48.43%.
A final opinion poll from the Datafolha institute on Saturday put da Silva as the slight favorite to win with 52% of the vote.
“This is going to be a messy election,” said Brian Winter, editor-in-chief of Americas Quarterly. “It’s much closer than anyone thought.”
Bolsonaro supporters to gather for ‘Victory Party’ during vote count
Some 120 million voters are expected to case their ballots at electronic voting machines — machines which Bolsonaro has sowed doubt about in recent months, without presenting any proof.
Bolsonaro’s allies have already organized a “Victory Party” to be held at the central esplanade of the capital, Brasilia, on Sunday during the vote count.
On Friday, Bolsonaro pledged to respect the outcome of the election, saying: “Whoever gets the most votes, wins.”
But some are still cautious about the outcome.
“We don’t know whether this result will be contested or not, and to what extent,” said Carlos Melo, a political science professor at Insper University in Sao Paulo. “It’s a very tough second round and a very tense Sunday, and tensions may continue beyond today.”
More coverage from DW on the election in Brazil
Who is Bolsonaro? Who is Lula? What are the main issues at hand? DW has wrapped up Brazil’s presidential election with everything you need to know about the vote.
Both Bolsonaro and Lula have positioned themselves as economic saviors. But the president’s use of metrics like growth and unemployment don’t necessarily reflect an improvement in many Brazilians’ everyday lives, a DW analysis has found.
The last four years have seen attacks on Brazil’s liberal values and democratic institutions since that have been unprecedented since the 1980s. DW’s Astrid Prange, for whom Brazil is a second home, asks: “Where is ‘my’ Brazil?”
rs, zc/jcg (Reuters, AP, AFP)