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Can Lula clinch the Brazilian election in the first round?

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The Brazilian presidential election will take place on October 2, and is considered the most decisive since the country returned to democracy in 1985. Not only are the two leading candidates ideologically opposed, but they have different views of democracy itself.

Much has changed since Jair Bolsonaro won the election in 2018. He won more than 55 million votes last time out, but he now faces massive rejection rates and is at risk of losing to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in a first-round landslide.

In the first round of Brazilian elections for executive positions (such as president, governor, and mayor), if any candidate gets more than 50 percent of valid votes, discounting spoiled ballots, they win the election directly in the first round without the need for the runoff.

The two times he won a presidential election, Lula has never done it in the first round. But polls suggest that he may well be on the verge of winning a majority of votes on Sunday and clinching the whole thing without a second round.

Lula’s favoritism is not by chance. Bolsonaro has overseen a chaotic presidency, signed by hundreds of thousands of Covid deaths, international ostracism, and a bewildering assault against the country’s democratic system. The president maintains that the Brazilian elections are rigged against him, as a pretense to contest the results if he does in fact lose to Lula.

For the frontrunner, the question will be whether he can translate polling performance into actual election results. Turnout will be a factor, with Lula overwhelmingly backed among Brazil’s poorest demographics — many of whom will be required to work on Sunday, often long from their homes and polling places. Ensuring they show up to vote could make the crucial difference in Lula’s push to win it all this weekend.

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