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Former leftist President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva secured a narrow lead in Brazil’s presidential elections Sunday but failed to win enough votes to avoid a runoff against far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, NPR reported.
With the majority of the votes counted, da Silva had won 48.4 percent of the vote while Bolsonaro trailed with about 43.2 percent in the 11-candidate race.
Sunday’s polarizing polls were largely peaceful despite a vitriolic – and often violent – campaign that raised concerns about Brazil’s democracy.
Bolsonaro, who has lauded Brazil’s former military dictatorship, often questioned the legality of the election as it approached – and as his poll numbers fell. He had previously hinted that he might not relinquish power if he lost.
Polls had long put da Silva in the lead, while Bolsonaro had experienced declining support over his botched Covid-19 response and economic stagnation, the New York Post noted.
Still, political analysts said the strong results for the incumbent showed that “Bolsonaro’s victory in 2018 was not a hiccup.”
The outcome was also somewhat of a vindication for da Silva, who is fondly remembered by many Brazilians during his two presidential terms from 2003 to 2010, when a commodities-fueled economic boom helped raise millions out of poverty.
But a series of corruption scandals resulted in his arrest and conviction in 2017. Two years later, Brazil’s Supreme Court annulled his convictions.
Brazil now faces four more weeks of intense political campaigning until the Oct. 30 runoff.