Brazil: Bolsonaro and Lula tie in presidential election

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s two main presidential candidates were tied late Sunday in a highly polarized election that could determine whether the country returns a leftist to the helm of the world’s fourth-largest democracy or keeps a right-winger in office for another four years.

In the race, current President Jair Bolsonaro faces his political nemesis: former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. There are nine other candidates, but their support is much lower than that of Bolsonaro and Lula.

With 76.3% of the votes counted, Lula had 46.2% of the votes, compared to 45.1% for Bolsonaro, according to the electoral authority. A possible second round is scheduled for October 30.

The most recent opinion polls gave Lula a solid lead: the latest Datafolha poll, published on Saturday, gave Lula 50% of the preferences, to 36% for Bolsonaro, among those who intended to vote. 12,800 people were interviewed, with a margin of error of plus/minus 2 percentage points.

Bolsonaro’s strongholds, such as the states of Paraná and Rio Grande do Sul, had counted more than half of their votes as of 7:20 p.m. local time. The count in the states where Lula and her party have done better, such as Bahia and Ceara in the northeast of the country, was still just over 20%.

But that didn’t quite explain how tight the race was, according to Rafael Cortez, who oversees political risk at Tendencias Consultoria. Bolsonaro was doing well in Brazil’s southeastern region, which includes the highly populated states of Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais.

“Polls didn’t capture that growth,” he said. “Now we have to see if the Workers’ Party recovers in the Northeast, where the count is still behind.”

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