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Brazil's outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro votes during the election runoff in Rio de Janeiro.

Bruna Prado/Pool via REUTERS

What We’re Watching: Bolsonaro’s next move, China’s forever zero-COVID, Iran’s public trials

What’s Bolsonaro gonna do?

Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro will speak publicly on Tuesday for the first time about the presidential election, which he officially lost on Sunday to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva by just under two points. Unlike in some other countries — ahem — Brazil’s unified electronic system counts all the votes at once, on the day of the election, and that’s that. But the right-wing Bolsonaro has spent months casting doubt on the credibility of that system itself, repeatedly hinting that he might not accept the result if he loses. Meanwhile, his supporters have cried foul at heavy-handed efforts by courts and electoral authorities to police fake news in the run-up to the vote. Truckers who support him have already blocked roads in 20 of Brazil’s 26 states. Some analysts fear a January 6 insurrection or worse, given Bolsonaro’s cozy ties to the military. Does he really think he can overturn the result? Probably not. Is he crazy enough to try a coup? Doubtful (really). But can he create an awful lot of chaos as a way of bolstering his political capital ahead of his upcoming role as leader of a powerful opposition that now controls congress? Surely. The results are in, but the streets are waiting: your move, Jair.

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A Lula supporter watches the presidential runoff election results in Brasilia.

REUTERS/Diego Vara

What We’re Watching: Lula wins Brazilian nail-biter, Russia kills Ukraine grain deal

Lula wins a tight victory in Brazil

Former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will return to the top job in Brazil after winning the runoff election against sitting President Jair Bolsonaro on Sunday. It was, as expected, a very close contest: with 99% of the ballots in, Lula got 50.83% of the vote compared to Bolsonaro's 49.17%.

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A man walks past Brazilian presidential campaign materials showing candidates Lula and Bolsonaro in Brasilia.

REUTERS/Adriano Machado

Brazil smackdown: Lula vs. Bolsonaro, final round

It’s a presidential election between two bitter rivals, each with tens of millions of supporters who see the other as a threat to democracy itself. Sound familiar? It’s not the 2024 US election just yet. No, it’s this Sunday’s presidential smackdown – er, runoff – in Brazil.

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A supporter of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva reacts as people gather after polling stations were closed in the presidential election in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli

What We're Watching: Brazilian runoff, Burkina Faso coup 2.0, Ukraine's response to Russian annexations

Lula’s bittersweet first-round win

Left-wing former President Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva won the first round of Brazil's presidential election on Sunday but fell short of the outright majority needed to avoid an Oct. 30 runoff that might now be tighter than expected. With almost 97% of the ballots counted, Lula got 47.9% of the vote, 4.2 percentage points more than his nemesis: the far-right incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro. Although Lula is still favored to also win in the second round, the result is good news for Bolsonaro because he outperformed the polls, which had him trailing Lula by a wide margin and led many to believe his rival could win it all in the first round. Some experts think that Bolsonaro is consistently underestimated because many Brazilians are hesitant to admit they vote for him — a theory pollsters deny. Lula's narrower-than-expected victory might give Bolsonaro even more fodder to claim that the surveys are rigged against him. Brazil's president has spent months firing up his base with baseless doubts about the integrity of the election process, and no one would be surprised if he tries to pull a 6 de Janeiro if he loses the runoff.

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Gabriella Turrisi

What We’re Watching: Brazil braces for “moment of truth,” British pound slides, Putin invites chaos, Snowden becomes Russian

Could Lula win it all in Brazil’s first round?

For months, mainstream pollsters have consistently shown Brazil’s right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro trailing his rival, left-wing former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, by a margin of about 10 points. But a new study shows Lula now has nearly 50% support, the threshold for winning the election in the first round, which takes place next Sunday. How accurate are the polls? Support for Bolsonaro is consistently underestimated because many people are unwilling to admit openly that they’ll vote for him. Pollsters say that’s bogus and that they have a good track record of measuring public opinion over the years. Regardless of whether Bolsonaro and his supporters believe the polls, a more important question remains: will they believe the result if he loses? He has spent months fomenting doubt about the electoral system. Either way, as Brazil’s (pro-Bolsonaro) comms minister Fabio Fara put it to the FT: “the moment of truth is coming.”

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