Oct. 7 (UPI) — Brazilians took to the polls Sunday as a far-right populist holds a lead over the handpicked successor of jailed former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
The latest polls showed Jair Bolsonaro of the Social Liberal Party leading Worker’s Party candidate Fernando Haddad with 40 percent of the vote to Hadad’s 25, The Guardian reported.
“Let’s make Brazil Great! Let’s be proud of our homeland once again!” Bolsonaro told his followers on Facebook the night before the election.
Bolsonaro has pledged to fight corruption and crack down on crime, but has also faced criticism for making racist, sexist and homophobic statements and for his support of torture and the country’s previous dictatorship.
Last month Bolsonaro survived a stabbing attempt at one of his rallies, which his son said left him “almost dead.”
Haddad took over the Worker’s Party nomination after Lula, who was disqualified from running while serving a 12-year sentence for corruption and money laundering, offered his blessing in an open letter read to supporters outside the federal police headquarters in Curitiba.
After assuming the nomination, Haddad — the former mayor of São Paulo — pledged to return Brazil to the “golden years” of Lula’s 2003-2011 presidency.
Bolsonaro and Haddad lead a field of 13 candidates and if no single candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote on Sunday a runoff election will take place on Oct. 28.
Despite experts predicting such a runoff, Bolsonaro said he’ll “go to the beach” on Oct. 28.
“I’m feeling confident we’ll get this done this today — it’ll be a first round win,” he said at the polls Sunday.
Haddad was more conservative with his outlook on the race as he placed his vote.
“I’m a democrat … and in a democracy you celebrate the will of the people … whatever the result,” he said.
More than 147 million Brazilians are eligible to vote for president.