Polling stations closed at 5 p.m. local time on Sunday and Brazil is holding its breath waiting for the name of the winner: far-right outgoing president Jair Bolsonaro, or left-wing ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the favourite.

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A controversy tainted a day that passed without major incident.

The president of the Superior Electoral Tribunal (TSE) Alexandre de Moraes announced the lifting of filter barriers by the federal road police (PRF) which “delayed the arrival of voters” at the polling stations, the left crying foul.

Leaders of the PT, Lula’s Workers’ Party, had earlier relayed on social networks many videos of buses transporting voters at a standstill, especially in rural areas of the Northeast, electoral stronghold of the former -left-wing president (2003-2010) who deemed “inadmissible what is happening”.

Mr. de Moraes, however, said at a press conference that, despite the delays, “no coach turned back and all the voters were able to vote”.

President Bolsonaro, 67, among the first to vote as soon as polls opened in the Vila militar district of Rio de Janeiro, arrived in Brasilia in the middle of the afternoon at the Alvorada Palace where he was to wait the results.

At least 200 people began to gather in the center of Brasila, on the Esplanade of the Ministries, after the closing of the offices, noted AFP.

Dressed in a t-shirt with the inscription “Brazil” yellow and green, in the colors of the national flag loved by his supporters, Bolsonaro had previously appeared alongside the Flamengo football team, which won Saturday in Ecuador the Copa Libertadores, the equivalent of the European Champions League.

Lula, 77, was expected to await the results in Sao Paulo where celebrations were planned in the event of victory. White long-sleeved shirt, he said his “confidence in a victory for democracy” by voting in Sao Bernardo do Campo, the city in the south-east where he made his debut as a union leader.

Lula wanted to “restore peace between Brazilians”, after an ultra-polarized campaign that cut the country in two.

accept defeat

The campaign between these two men who oppose everything took place in a brutal climate which saw them insult each other copiously while social networks, the only source of information for the majority of the 170 million Brazilian users, carried torrents of misinformation.

Bolsonaro insulted Lula: “thief”, “ex-prisoner”, “alcoholic” or “national disgrace”. The latter returned the blows: “pedophile”, “cannibal”, “genocidal” or “little dictator”.

In the Amazon on Sunday, natives of the Sateré-Mawé ethnic group, from the Sahu-Apé community, drew red and black arrows on their cheeks before walking to the polling station closest to their homes. wood.

These drawings mean that they have an objective to achieve: to elect their candidate, Lula, the one who “knows what it is to struggle on a daily basis” and “how difficult it is (…) for us”.

The name of the new president should be formalized before 8 p.m. local time. The first estimates should be favorable to candidate Bolsonaro with the counting first of the southern states of the country, before those of the north, supporters of Lula.

If the polls have been predicting a victory for Lula for months, Bolsonaro still has reason to believe it.

According to the latest Datafolha survey on Saturday evening, the gap narrowed to 52%/48% for Lula with a margin of error of 2 points. The polls had heavily underestimated Bolsonaro’s score in the 1st round (43% against 48% for Lula).

Abstention could be the key to the result. The major issue between the two rounds was the hunt for 32 million abstainers, while six million votes separated Lula (48%) from his Bolsonaro (43%).

The other question that tormented observers was whether, in the event of defeat, Bolsonaro would accept the verdict of the polls, becoming the first president running for a second term not to be re-elected since the return to democracy in 1985.

After launching relentless attacks against the “fraudulent” system of electronic ballot boxes, he said on Friday, without convincing: “Whoever has the most votes wins. This is democracy”.

Lula, a former steelworker with an extraordinary destiny, who experienced the disgrace of prison (2018-2019) then the cancellation of his convictions for corruption, said he hoped that Bolsonaro “will recognize the result” if he loses.

Twelve Brazilian state governors will also be elected on Sunday evening, and the result in the most populous and wealthy state of Sao Paulo is highly anticipated.