Bolsonaro, Lula hold final rallies before Brazil vote

2. Brazil
Brazilian ex-president and presidential candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (left) and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. (Photo: AFP)

SAO PAULO, Brazil — Far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro and leftist front-runner Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva held their final campaign rallies Saturday, gathering their supporters just kilometers apart as tension crackled on the eve of Brazil’s polarizing presidential election.اضافة اعلان

Bolsonaro, the 67-year-old president known for his gloves-off style, led one of his trademark motorcycle rallies from the north side of Sao Paulo to the city’s Ibirapuera park.

About 5km from there, Lula, the 76-year-old expresident who led Brazil from 2003 to 2010, held his own rally on the economic capital’s main avenue, Avenida Paulista.

With the country deeply divided, tension is running high heading into Sunday’s election which Lula is gunning to win outright, without the need for a runoff on October 30.

A poll from the Datafolha institute released Thursday put the charismatic but tarnished leftist on the cusp of a first-round win, with 50 percent of valid votes, to 36 percent for Bolsonaro.

To win outright, he would need 50 percent plus one vote.

The poll’s margin of error was plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Bolsonaro has repeatedly signaled he could challenge an election loss, saying “only God” can remove him from office and alleging, without evidence, rampant fraud in Brazil’s electronic voting system.

“We’re going to win in the first round — 64 percent of the vote,” Bolsonaro’s congressman son Eduardo said at the rally in Sao Paulo, al-leging, like his father, that polls showing Lula ahead are fake.

Some fear a possible Brazilian version of the unrest that rocked the US last year after Bolsonaro’s political role model, former president Donald Trump, refused to accept electoral defeat.

Bolsonaro’s popularity has been dented by his chaotic management of COVID-19 and the economy.

‘Very tense’

Security has been tight around both candidates, who rarely campaign without bulletproof vests, after Bolsonaro was stabbed at a rally during his successful 2018 electoral race.

The final hours of the campaign, which closes at midnight, “will be very tense — all eyes will be on the slightest detail that could tip the balance one way or the other,” said political scientist Jairo Nicolau of the Getulio Vargas Foundation.

The homestretch already descended into mud-slinging Thursday when Lula and Bolsonaro traded insults in their final presidential debate.

Bolsonaro wasted no time pouncing on the controversial corruption charges that have long dogged Lula. The Supreme Court threw out his conviction last year, ruling the judge who jailed him was biased.

Lula, who rose from destitute poverty to become the most popular president in Brazilian history, responded in kind.

Two final opinion polls are due to be released Saturday evening, from Datafolha and fellow polling institute Ipec.

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