What You Need to Know about Brazil's Runoff Election

By Maite Fernández Simon

"There’s a real conservative movement in Brazil, and Jair Bolsonaro is its leader," said AS/COA's Brian Winter to The Washington Post.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro outperformed the polls on Sunday, capturing more than 43 percent of the vote and denying former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva a first-round victory in the presidential election.

The two heavyweights — Bolsonaro, a right-wing politician, and Lula, a leftist — emerged from the first-round field of 11 to face off in a second and final round this month. Analysts say it’s the most consequential election in Latin America’s largest country since it threw off the military dictatorship 37 years ago. […]

Brian Winter, editor in chief of Americas Quarterly, said pollsters have struggled to capture the conservative vote in the United States and other countries beyond Brazil. “You have right-wing voters who think that the system is stacked against them and do not want to or are afraid to reveal the truth about who they really plan to vote for,” he said. “And I strongly suspect that was part of the story in Brazil.”…

The election has made plain Brazil’s deep polarization. Tensions will be higher the second time around, as will the risk of political violence, Santoro said. Supporters of both Lula and Bolsonaro see the vote as an existential choice: Does Brazil want to be a democracy or an authoritarian state? The candidates will be fighting over swing voters, particularly in the states of Minas Gerais, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Winter said.

Sunday’s results quashed hopes on the left that Bolsonaro’s ascent to power in 2018 was a fluke. As he defied projections in the presidential contest, allies made strong showings in races for state governorships and Congress. He has built a movement that could have a lasting impact on Brazilian politics.

Lula supporters were hoping not only for a first-round victory but also a repudiation of Bolsonarismo. It didn’t happen. “This idea that was still circulating in some circles that Bolsonaro was some kind of historical aberration, I think that idea is dead,” Winter said. “There’s a real conservative movement in Brazil, and Jair Bolsonaro is its leader and will be for quite some time, even if he loses the runoff on Oct. 30.”…

Read the full article.