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Brazil begins to tally votes in contentious presidential election

Votes were being counted Sunday evening in Brazil’s high-stakes presidential election, where leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva aimed to beat far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro and retake the presidency.

Polls closed at 4 p.m. ET Sunday in the race being watched around the world. With 2% of the totals in at 5 p.m. ET, Bolsonaro was in the lead with 48.7% of the vote against Lula’s 41.6%.

Pollsters have predicted Lula, who was Brazil’s president from 2003 to 2010, will beat Bolsonaro by around 10%. He needs to get more than 50% of the vote or a runoff election will be immediately triggered. 

Bolsonaro, a member of the conservative Social Liberal Party, was elected in 2018 and has insisted that he would win the election, while hinting that he would not accept defeat.

His popularity has soured in Brazil, where he dismantled protections for the Amazon rainforest and botched the country’s COVID-19 response.

Lula, a former union leader, was jailed before the 2018 election on corruption charges that were later thrown out. Many of his associates were jailed and his hand-picked successor Dilma Rousseff was impeached.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro leaving a polling station after voting in Brazil's general election in Rio de Janeiro on October 2, 2022.
Andre Coelho/Pool via AP
Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is expected to beat Bolsonaro in the election.
Photo by NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP via Getty Images
People waiting to cast their ballots in Brasilia, Brazil on October 2, 2022.
Photo by SERGIO LIMA/AFP via Getty Images

Pundits have said Lula’s win will be predicated on turnout, saying the candidate representing the Worker’s Party has a wider but less enthusiastic base than Bolsonaro.

Many questions remain about whether the election will remain peaceful. Multiple Lula supporters have been murdered in the run-up to the election.

Gun-ownership has spiked since Bolsonaro — who has the backing of the police — took office.

With Post wires