Brazil’s polarizing Bolsonaro-Lula contest goes to voters
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 Inacio Lula da Silva. Both are well-known, divisive political figures who stir passion as much as loathing.
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.
But in the Oct. 2 first-round elections, da Silva finished first among the 11 candidates with 48% of the votes, while Bolsonaro was second at 43%, showing opinion polls significantly underestimated the president's popularity. Many Brazilians support Bolsonaro's defense of conservative social values and he has shored up support with vast government spending.
Candidates in Brazil who finish ahead in the first round tend to win the runoff. But political scientist Rodrigo Prando said this campaign is so...