Explaining Brazil #217: Election stunner

Jair Bolsonaro outperformed his polling numbers, proving he put the far-right in the Brazilian political mainstream. Brazil's presidential runoff may be the tightest ever

The dust is still settling after the first round of Brazil’s Sunday election. Center-left challenger and former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva finished the first round ahead, but fell just short of the 50 percent of votes he needed to clinch an outright victory.

Far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, meanwhile, performed much better than expected. Reputable pollsters had his support at around the mid-30 percent mark, but he managed to win over 43 percent of the votes, just 6 million shy of Lula’s 48 percent.

The pair will now go head to head in the October 30 runoff, and what once looked like a foregone conclusion will now go right down to the wire — especially considering there are another four weeks of campaigning before the final vote. 

But, as we often say at The Brazilian Report, the presidential election is not the only game in town, and congressional races are arguably even more critical to determine the path the country will take in the coming four years.

And in this regard, Jair Bolsonaro has already scored a big victory.

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  • Beatriz Rey is a columnist for The Brazilian Report. She is an SNF Agora Visiting Fellow at Johns Hopkins University and an APSA Congressional Fellow (2021-2022) and holds a Ph.D. in political science from Syracuse University and an M.A. in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

This episode used music from Uppbeat. License codes: HLV454OEALKQ0QVC, 9JNXUB1H3OK8EJCH, 5ARLATCVUMTLHNCG.

Live Coverage of Brazil’s 2022 election:

Watch our special 2022 live broadcast. The Brazilian Report team hosted special guests on Election Day for a five-hour special broadcast. Guests: Mario Sergio Lima (Medley Advisors), Mauricio Savarese (the Associated Press), Natalie Unterstell (Talanoa Institute).

Background reading:

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