Brazil votes in heated Bolsonaro-Lula presidential runoff

© Ueslei Marcelino, Reuters

Brazilians vote Sunday in a polarizing presidential runoff election that pits an incumbent vowing to safeguard conservative Christian values against a former president promising to return the country to a more prosperous past.

The runoff shaped up as a close contest between President Jair Bolsonaro and his political nemesis, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Both are well-known, divisive political figures who stir passion as much as loathing.

Bolsonaro was first in line to cast his vote at a military complex in Rio de Janeiro. He sported the green and yellow colors of the Brazilian flag that always feature at his rallies.

“I'm expecting our victory, for the good of Brazil,” he told reporters afterward. “God willing, Brazil will be victorious today.”

The vote will determine if the world’s fourth-largest democracy stays the same course of far-right politics or returns a leftist to the top job — and, in the latter case, whether Bolsonaro will accept defeat.

More than 120 million Brazilians are expected to cast ballots, but because the vote is conducted electronically, the final result is usually available within hours after voting stations close in late afternoon. Most opinion polls gave a lead to da Silva, universally known as Lula, though political analysts agreed the race grew increasingly tight in recent weeks.

For months, it appeared that da Silva was headed for easy victory as he kindled nostalgia for his 2003-2010 presidency, when Brazil's economy was booming and welfare helped tens of millions join the middle class.


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