Tighter election poll than expected shows Brazil's Bolsonaro may be down - but he's not out

The election was closer than first thought, but the left-wing candidate is still the favourite to win the run-off, Emma Murphy reports

As I write this a few-thousand strong crowd are cheering on their would-be President - Lula da Silva, who served in the office between 2003 and 2010.

This was the night they had hoped they would be cheering his ultimate, complete victory. But, in fact, whilst he may have won a battle he hasn't won the war. That's still to fight.

Whilst the Leftist candidate secured at least 56 million votes, beating incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro, he didn’t win over enough Brazilian voters to beat Bolsonaro with a 50% plus majority.

Lula da Silva compared the results to running to extra time in a football match. Credit: PA

That means Brazilians must vote again on October 30, in what will be a tightly fought Presidential runoff.

Team Lula are keeping optimistic - insisting the fight will go on to ultimate victory - but for all the spin this is a bad night.

“We’ll have to behave like a football team when a match goes to extra time. We’ll rest for 15 minutes and then we’ll get back out onto the pitch to score the goals we didn’t score in normal time,” Lula told supporters, but victory is by no means certain.

This result was not the repudiation of the Bolsonaro era this crowd and many beyond these borders had hoped for. In the second round there is a second chance at a second term for the President and his policies, which have divided this country.

President Bolsonaro has been questioning the legitimacy of Brazil's voting system. Credit: AP

Many Bolsonaristas were elected to Brazil’s congress. They include he former heath minister, Eduardo Pazzueoo, who oversaw the country's response to the Covid pandemic, during which over 700,000 people died.

The former environment minister Ricardo Salles also won a seat in Congress despite the increased destruction of the Amazon on his watch. Bolsonaro supporters have a real grip on the chamber now.

Jair Bolsonaro might be down, but don’t count him out yet.