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Brazilians vote in controversial elections plagued by violence and fear

2022-10-02T14:14:01.043Z

The polls opened in Brazil on Sunday in a presidential election marked by an unprecedented climate of tension and violence.



The electoral atmosphere in Brazil one day before the presidential elections 3:47

 (CNN) -

The polls opened in Brazil this Sunday in a presidential election marked by an unprecedented climate of tension and violence.

While there are nearly a dozen candidates on the ballot, the race has been dominated by two favorites and polar opposites: right-wing incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro and left-wing former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, leader of the Workers' Party.

Both have been seen on the campaign trail flanked by security and police, even wearing bulletproof vests on occasion.

Bolsonaro wore his when he launched his re-election bid last month in the city of Juiz de Fora, where he was stabbed in the stomach during his 2018 presidential campaign. Da Silva, who is commonly known as Lula, was also seen with a vest during an event in Rio de Janeiro, the same city where a homemade stink bomb was dropped on a large crowd of his supporters in July.

Voting began at 8 am in Brasilia (7 am Miami time) and ends at 5 pm local time (4 pm Miami time).

More than 156 million Brazilians are eligible to vote.

In the Brazilian electoral system, a winning candidate must obtain more than 50% of the votes.

If no candidate crosses that threshold, a second round of voting between the two candidates will take place on October 30.

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Voters also elect new state governors, senators, federal and state representatives for the 26 states of the country and the federal district.

Bolsonaro, 67, is running for re-election under the conservative Liberal Party.

He has campaigned to increase mining, privatize public companies and generate more sustainable energy to reduce energy prices.

He has promised to continue paying a monthly benefit of R$600 (approximately US$110) known as Auxilio Brasil.

Often called the "Trump of the tropics," Bolsonaro, who has the support of important evangelical leaders, is a highly polarizing figure.

His government is known for its support of the ruthless exploitation of the land in the Amazon, leading to record numbers of deforestation.

Environmentalists warn that the future of the rainforest could be at stake in this election.

  • Why the future of the planet is (also) at stake in the Brazilian elections

Bolsonaro has also been widely criticized for his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

More than 686,000 people in Brazil have died from the virus.

Lula, 76, who was president for two consecutive terms, from 2003 to 2011, has focused his campaign on removing Bolsonaro from office and has highlighted his past achievements throughout his campaign.

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva votes at a polling station in Sao Bernardo do Campo, on the outskirts of Sao Paulo, on October 2, 2022.

He left office with a 90% approval rating in 2011 and is largely credited with lifting millions of Brazilians out of extreme poverty through the “Bolsa Familia” welfare program.

His campaign has promised a new tax regime that will allow for more public spending.

He has promised to end hunger in the country, which has returned under the Bolsonaro government.

Lula also promises to work to reduce carbon emissions and deforestation in the Amazon.

Voters line up during the general elections in Brazil on Sunday, October 2, 2022.

Lula, however, is also no stranger to controversy.

He was convicted of corruption and money laundering in 2017, on charges stemming from the extensive “Operation Lava Jato” investigation into the state-owned oil company Petrobras.

But after serving less than two years, a Supreme Court judge overturned Lula's conviction in March 2021, paving the way for him to run for president for the sixth time.

The counting of votes begins just after the ballots, which are mostly electronic, close on Sunday.

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Electoral authorities say they expect the final results of the first round to be officially announced on Sunday night.

In the past elections, the results were officially declared two or three hours after the voting ended.

Observers will be watching to see if all the candidates publicly accept the result.

Bolsonaro, who has been accused of inciting his supporters with violent rhetoric, has tried to cast doubt on the result, saying the results should be considered suspect if he doesn't get "at least 60%."

On Saturday, he repeated claims that he will win the first round of the presidential election by a wide margin, despite trailing 14 points in the most recent poll that day.

"We don't see anything other than the elections being decided tomorrow, with a margin of more than 60%," Bolsonaro said during a press conference broadcast on his own YouTube channel.

“I have never seen so many people on the streets in any other election,” he continued, referring to the number of participants in his rallies and caravans.

"People are spontaneously taking to the streets."

Both Bolsonaro and his conservative Liberal Party have claimed that Brazil's electronic ballot system is susceptible to fraud, a wholly unfounded accusation that has drawn comparisons to former US President Donald Trump's false election claims.

There have been no proven cases of electoral fraud in electronic voting in Brazil.

The Supreme Electoral Tribunal has also rejected complaints of failures in the system, as "false and untrue, with no basis in reality."

Critics have warned that such talk could lead to outbreaks of violence or even a refusal to accept the election result among some Brazilians, pointing to the Jan. 6, 2021, riots incited by Trump after he lost the vote.

There have already been several reports of political speeches turning violent by supporters across the political spectrum.

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Last weekend, police recorded two fatal incidents in states on opposite ends of the country.

In the northeastern state of Ceara, a man was stabbed to death in a bar after identifying himself as a Lula supporter, according to police.

And authorities in the southern state of Santa Catarina say a man wearing a Bolsonaro T-shirt was also fatally stabbed during a violent argument with a man witnesses identified as a supporter of the Workers' Party.

Police say they are investigating both incidents and arrests have been made.

And in July, a member of Lula's Workers' Party, who was celebrating his 50th birthday with a political-themed party, was shot dead.

Just a day before, two explosives were thrown into a crowd at a Lula rally.

According to a Datafolha survey conducted in August, more than 67% of voters in Brazil fear being "physically attacked" due to their political affiliations.

And the country's Supreme Electoral Tribunal has issued a ban on firearms within 100 meters of any voting center on election day.

The fear factor among voters could lead to several abstentions on Sunday, yet recent polls show fewer Brazilians undecided this year than in previous elections.

CNN's Flora Charner contributed reporting.

ElectionsJair BolsonaroLula da Silva

Source: cnnespanol

All news articles on 2022-10-02

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