Brazilian leftist leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva holds a solid lead going into Sunday’s presidential race against right-wing incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro and is within sight of an outright victory, polls suggest.
Brazil’s most polarised election in decades will decide whether to return to power a former president who spent time in jail on corruption convictions or a populist who has attacked the voting system and threatened to contest defeat.
Two polls released on Saturday suggest Lula has a majority of valid votes and could win Sunday’s first-round election, which would avoid a bruising run-off on October 30.
Pollster IPEC showed Lula winning 51 per cent of the valid votes, excluding blank and spoiled ballots, and a poll by Datafolha said the popular two-term president would get 50 per cent of the valid votes, with a margin of error of 2 percentage points.
Both polls showed Lula has a 14-percentage point advantage over Bolsonaro.
Earlier, a CNT/MDA poll had Lula winning 48.3 per cent of valid votes and being statistically within reach of outright victory.
If no one among the 11 candidates gets more than 50 per cent of votes, the two frontrunners – almost certainly Lula and Bolsonaro – go to second-round vote on October 30.
Bolsonaro, a 67-year-old former army captain who spent 28 years as a congressman who is pro-gun, anti-gay and against abortion, was swept into office in 2018 on a wave of conservative sentiment and opposition to Lula’s Workers Party.
Man of the people
On Saturday, he will close his re-election campaign with two rallies by motorbike supporters in Sao Paulo and Joinville, Santa Catarina state.
Lula rode in an open car and then walked through tens of thousands of cheering supporters who turned out in central Sao Paulo. The event was called the “Walk of Victory”.
Lula’s Workers Party has booked space on Sao Paulo’s main Paulista Avenue for Sunday night to celebrate victory by the 77-year-former union leader and party founder.
Brazil’s electronic voting system, which Bolsonaro has repeatedly criticised as vulnerable to fraud without providing evidence, allows the national electoral authority to quickly tally results within hours after polls close at 5pm.
Due to Bolsonaro’s attacks on the voting system and the prospect of conflict, the authority has invited an unprecedented number of international observers to this year’s election.