BRASILIA – Millions of Brazilians vote on Sunday to choose between far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro and leftist Fernando Haddad of the Workers’ Party in the second and final round of presidential elections.
Bolsonaro remains in the lead in the election that has been over-shadowed by corruption scandals and a knife attack on the far-right leader in which he lost 40% of his blood and needed emergency surgery.
63-year-old ex-army captain Bolsonaro is from the small, conservative Social Liberal Party. His provocative statements on abortion, race, migration, homosexuality and gun laws have earned him the nickname “Trump of the Tropics.”
55-year-old Mr Haddad, a former Sao Paulo mayor and education minister, is the son of a family of Lebanese immigrants. He replaced former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, currently serving a 12-year prison sentence on corruption charges, as the presidential candidate for the Workers’ Party less than a month before the first round of the election.
According to the latest public opinion poll, released late Saturday, the ex- paratrooper had a 54% of valid votes support while the Workers Party hopeful stood at 46%, that is an eight points difference.
The Ibope poll which was made public Saturday 19:00 Sao Paulo time has a plus/minus two percentage points error. Valid votes exclude those blank, spoilt ballots or undecided or uncommitted voters.
The latest result, shows the mid-week tendency which had Bolsonaro’s support slightly but steadily contracting while that of Haddad gaining. In effect the previous Ibope poll had Bolsonaro with 57% support and 43% for the ex-mayor of Sao Paulo City.
Taking into account the whole universe of votes (voting is mandatory in Brazil), Bolsonaro’s support also tends to contract. Ibope estimates it has dropped from 50% to 47%, while Haddad has steadily climbed from 37% to 41%. Among the undecided the margin of error was more volatile closer to 3% than to 2%.
As to rejection for both candidates, the latest Ibope poll also shows some changes. Among those interviewed 39% said that under no circumstances would they vote for Bolsonaro, which represents a slight drop from the previous poll, when it stood at 40%. However in the case of Haddad the change was greater, rejection climbed from 41% to 44%.
A second last minute poll, Datafolha, with interviews collected between Friday and early Saturday, a few hours ahead of Sunday ballot day showed Bolsonaro with 55% support and Haddad 45%, with the same converging tendency.
In effect the distance between the two candidates shrank in the last two weeks, when it stood at 18 points. Considering the whole universe of votes, 8% will vote blank or spoilt while 5% remain undecided.
The Datafolha poll was contracted by the O’Globo network and Folha de Sao Paulo and interviewed 18.060 people, between Friday and Saturday with a margin error of two percentage points.
Datafolha also reflected similar degrees or rejection, 45% for Bolsonaro and 52% for Haddad, with diverging tendency.
Brazil has been rocked by an increase in violent crime and a huge political bribery scandal that has tainted the entire political class. The economy shrank by nearly 7% during the country’s worst-ever recession in 2015.
Voting is mandatory for the country’s 147 million eligible voters, with results expected around 22:00 GMT.
The winner will replace President Michel Temer from the conservative Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (MDB), who leaves office with an approval rating of just 2%.