By Pedro Fonseca and Flavia Marreiro
(Reuters) – Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) received the most votes in Sunday’s presidential election, but will contest a tense second round with president and re-election candidate Jair Bolsonaro (PL), which surpassed what was estimated by the main opinion polls. and was just over 5 points away from the former president.
With 99.96% of the polling stations counted, Lula got 48.42% of the valid votes this Sunday, against 43.21% for Bolsonaro, followed by Simone Tebet (MDB), with 4.16%, and Ciro Gomes (PDT) , with 3.04%.
“I always thought that we were going to win these elections and we are going to win. This is just an extension for us,” Lula said. “It will be important to have a tête-à-tête debate with the President of the Republic”, said the PT member, who addressed supporters on Av.Paulista.
Bolsonaro spoke to journalists and followers at Palácio da Alvorada, in Brasília. He declined to comment on the performance of the electronic voting machines, which he frequently attacks, and signaled that he will try to court the poorer electorate, who lean towards Lula, irritated by inflation.
“I understand that there is a lot of vote that was for the condition of the Brazilian people, who felt the increase in products. In particular, the basic basket. I understand that there is a desire to change on the part of the population, but there are certain changes that could come for the worse”, said the president.
The result indicates that the PT’s work to attract useful votes and define the dispute this Sunday was far from being enough, while the reelection candidate’s strategy of attacking the opponent harshly in recent days managed to keep the dispute open, attracting what everything points to the helpful vote of Ciro Gomes and Simone Tebet.
The numbers not only of Bolsonaro but also of his supporters for the Senate show a final sprint of the president’s political strength, increasing pressure on the main opinion polls, which projected an advantage for Lula and allies.
“Polls failed to capture the right-wing vote,” said Rafael Cortez, an analyst at Tendências Consultoria.
The next few weeks until the second round on October 30 should register a tense dispute – since August there have been several episodes of violence – and fierce, even more so now when, definitively, all attention will be focused on Bolsonaro and Lula.
Right away, the PT campaign admits its frustration with the results, but it is already trying to seek votes from the voters of defeated candidates. According to a PT source, conversations with the MDB of Simone Tebet, who had nods to approach Lula, have already begun.
Despite fierce criticism of the PT during the campaign, Ciro Gomes has not declared neutrality – yet. He asked for “time” to define his position in the second round.
Bolsonaro, on the other hand, gains fuel to further mobilize his faithful militancy. The president had been discrediting research institutes, saying he preferred “data people”.
According to sources in his campaign, the idea is to focus forces initially on Minas Gerais, the country’s second electoral college and where Romeu Zema (Novo) was reelected and should support Bolsonaro.
“It must be a very close election”, predicts Cortez, from Tendências.
“Lula has more attributes to bring new facts to the campaign”, says the analyst, but considers that, with more time, Bolsonaro can benefit from the recent improvement in the economy.
Markets should react positively to Bolsonaro’s show of strength at the polls, with investors turning to bets on the re-election scenario of the candidate considered most aligned with a liberal agenda.
(Additional reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu, Ricardo Brito, Eduardo Simões, Tatiana Bautzer, André Romani and Fernando Cardoso)
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