In Brazil Lula disappoints, Bolsonaro resists after the first round of the presidential elections

The crowd is silent. On Cinelândia, an iconic square in the center of Rio de Janeiro, surrounded by skyscrapers and prestigious Art Deco buildings, the gaze is low and heavy. However, several hundred activists dressed in red came here to celebrate the return to power of the left in Brazil. The beers were ready, frozen as they should be, the smiles and even the victory songs. But the voters decided otherwise.

At the end of the first round of the presidential elections, Sunday 2 October, the former left-wing president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva finished in the lead with 48.43% of the votes against 43.2% of the outgoing far-right head of state , which gets a much higher score than the one expected by the electoral institutes. Just 5 points, or just 6 million votes (out of a total of 123 million votes) separate two men, who will meet for an uncertain second round on October 30th.

For the left, however, it all started well. The day before the election, the latest polls still gave Lula a 15-point lead and a good chance of winning in the first round. The most popular president in the history of Brazil, the latter thought he could soon be his successor, discredited by his catastrophic management of the economy, Covid-19 and the environment. At the head of a vast coalition of nine political parties, the leader of the Workers’ Party (PT) could leave confidently.

Read also: Article reserved for our members Brazil at the polls: between Bolsonaro and Lula, a decisive choice in tension

On the morning of October 2, Lula then went alongside his new wife, Rosangela, to vote all smiles in Sao Bernardo do Campo, a working-class suburb of São Paulo where he was born as a union leader. “This is a very important day for me! “, launches the former metalworker, recalling that four years ago, jailed for corruption, he could not run for president. Lula then takes the receipt of the vote and brings it to her lips. A kiss of democracy, like the announcement of an inevitable victory.

Far from the outburst of the 2018 victory

450 kilometers east, in Rio de Janeiro, Jair Bolsonaro gives a completely different picture. Grumpy, under a gray and rainy sky, the outgoing president shows up at around 9 am at his polling station in Vila Militar, a carioca district dotted with army barracks. No member of his family accompanies him: the head of state is surrounded only by his bodyguards in sunglasses and a handful of allies. Among these, the deputy Daniel Silveira, a former policeman with a shaved head and the build of a fighter, sentenced to eight years in prison for his attacks on democracy, which Bolsonaro ended up pardoning …

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