Brazil was in turmoil on Sunday, with 156 million voters voting for a presidential election under tension that Lula hopes to win in this first round against incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro, who could contest the result.

The two big favorites in the polls voted early in the morning, shortly after the opening of the polls, where many Brazilians showed up wearing the colors of their favorite candidate, yellow and green for Bolsonaro and red for Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

The former left-wing president (2003-2010), 76, voted in Sao Bernardo do Campo, a working-class suburb of Sao Paulo where he became known as a trade union leader.

"For me, this is the most important election," said the former steelworker, who is in his sixth presidential race to seek a third term, twelve years after leaving power with record popularity.

“If the elections are clean, no problem”

"We don't want any more hatred, discord.

We want a country at peace,” he said in reference to the fractures in the country.

Voting soon after in Rio de Janeiro, Bolsonaro, 67, dressed in the yellow and green jersey of the national football team under which he wore a bulletproof vest, further cast doubt on a possible dispute of the result.

“If the elections are clean, no problem.

May the best win !

“said the Head of State.

At midday, the president of the Superior Electoral Tribunal (TSE), Alexandre de Moraes, assured that the vote was taking place “without problems, in complete tranquility”, and wanted to “reaffirm the reliability and transparency” of the system. electronic ballot boxes, regularly criticized by Jair Bolsonaro.

The latest poll by the benchmark institute Datafolha gave Lula a long lead in the first round, with 50% of the votes cast, against 36% for Bolsonaro.

Long queues have formed since early morning at polling stations, especially in Brasilia.

"I am a Christian, I only vote for candidates who agree with what is written in the Bible, so I vote Bolsonaro," said Aldeyze dos Santos, 40, a housewife interviewed by AFP in the Brazilian capital.

But in Rio de Janeiro, Kaia Ferrari, a 67-year-old retiree, launches, laconic: "I hate Bolsonaro".

"As a black woman, I voted for a candidate who is committed to fighting discrimination," said Lucia Estela da Conceição, a Lulist retiree who voted in Sao Paulo.

"We live in a chaotic time, I hope everything will be fine today, that there will be no unrest," she continued.

Some polling stations were set up in unusual locations, such as a luxury hotel on Copacabana beach in Rio.

“It's the first time I've voted in a hotel.

It's good that tourists see that we are in a democracy, or at least that we are fighting to protect it, ”said 32-year-old voter Juliana Trevisan to AFP.

For this crucial election for the future of the young democracy in Brazil, the shock at the Lula-Bolsonaro summit relegated the nine other candidates to the rank of extras.

An unexpected Lula comeback?

"The question is whether there will be a second round or not, and it's impossible to predict," Adriano Laureno, an analyst at consultants Prospectiva, told AFP.

A victory for Lula would mark an unexpected comeback four years after his controversial imprisonment on suspicion of corruption.

His campaign has called for a "meaningful vote" for a first-round victory.

This would save him four more weeks of campaigning at loggerheads until a second round on October 30.

A second round could allow the populist Bolsonaro to galvanize his troops and find new momentum.

On his Twitter account, he posted messages of support from his rare allies, such as football star Neymar or former US President Donald Trump who calls on Brazilians to "re-elect one of the greatest presidents in the world".

“I think Bolsonaro will challenge the result if he loses,” Mr. Laureno said, “but that doesn't mean he's going to be successful.

The international community will recognize the result quickly”.

Many fear a Brazilian remake of Washington's 2021 Capitol assault after Trump's defeat.

The military showed no sign of unrest and the US said it would 'monitor closely' the election, while more than 500,000 law enforcement personnel were mobilized to provide security .

Brazilians also elect Sunday their 513 federal deputies, a third of the 81 senators and the governors of the 27 states, as well as the regional deputies.


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