Lula leads Bolsonaro with 93 pct. of votes counted, runoff likely
(Update 1: Reledes, changes headline, dateline, adds vote tally info)
Rio de Janeiro, Oct 2 (EFE).- In a much tighter Brazilian presidential election than expected on Sunday, progressive former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva after trailing markedly behind ultrarightist President Jair Bolsonaro as vote tallies came in, has pulled narrowly ahead of his rival with more than 93 percent of the votes counted.
Lula is leading in the polls with 47.43 percent of the valid votes to Bolsonaro’s 44.05 pct., according to official results released by election authorities with 92.96 percent of the ballots counted.
Bolsonaro, surprisingly – given Lula’s weeks-long double-digit lead in all the voter surveys – got off to an early lead almost right from the start, although the very first tally by the Superior Electoral Court with just 0.09 percent of the votes counted had given Lula 51.18 percent to Bolsonaro’s 36.73 percent, pretty much in line with what voter surveys had been showing.
The results at this stage make it likely that neither man will surpass the 50 percent threshold needed to win the election in the first round and thus an Oct. 30 runoff vote appears to be the probable result to decide the presidency.
Brazil’s presidential, legislative and regional elections reportedly transpired normally on Sunday, with only relatively few reported problems at the electronic voting booths or involving alleged election-related crimes, authorities said earlier in the day.
According to the 11:40 am bulletin from election authorities, since the polling places opened at 8 am a total of 1,374 electronic voting machines, representing 0.29 percent of the total of 472,075 such machines installed at precincts all around the country, had to be taken offline and replaced.
According to the Justice and Public Safety Ministry, during the first three hours of voting, 130 people were arrested for assorted presumed violations of election laws, ranging from activities relating to proselytizing or distributing campaign materials for candidates to alleged attempts to bribe voters.
One case of attempted vote-buying was reported in the state of Amapa, in the Amazon region, where one person was arrested near a polling station in possession of 19,000 reais (about $3,800) in cash and will be investigated for presumably paying voters to cast their ballots for certain unidentified regional candidates.
The 2022 elections, the most polarized since Brazil recovered its democracy in 1985, have been characterized by high tension between the socialist Lula, the heavy presidential favorite in all the pre-election voter surveys, and the ultraconservative Bolsonaro.
The polarization between the two top candidates during the campaign has spread to their supporters with several cases of attacks and killings during political arguments in recent days.
Amid this scenario, the head of the Superior Electoral Court (TSE), Alexandre de Moraes, told reporters after voting in Sao Paulo that the day was transpiring “in calm and safety.”
Polling places opened at 8 am and closed at 5 pm, with some 156.4 million people eligible to vote for president, 27 governors, 513 congressmen, a third of the Senate and to select representatives on regional legislative assemblies.
With the polls now closed around the country, which took place according to a unified schedule for the first time ever, the TSE will continue releasing periodic bulletins of preliminary results as the ballots are tabulated.