No polls could predict Bolsonaro’s vote share

WALL – In the first round of the presidential elections held in Brazil, Labor Party leader Lula da Silva came in first with 48.3%. However, with Jair Bolsonaro, the leader of his far-right rival Liberal Party, getting 43.3 percent of the vote, the elections went to the second round. Former Brazilian President Lula and current President Bolsonaro will race again on October 30.

Brazil, the most populous country in Latin America, went to the polls on Sunday (yesterday) to elect the president, state governors and members of Congress. Lula, who won the first round of the elections, was imprisoned on corruption charges in 2019, but was able to re-run when the decision was deemed to be political. The former union leader, who has run for president five times before, won twice and was defeated three times. Bolsonaro, a former soldier known for his far-right, anti-immigrant and neoliberal policies, came to power in the second round of the 2018 elections with over 55 percent of the vote against the Labor Party’s candidate, former Sao Paolo Mayor Fernando Haddad.


The participation rate in the elections held electronically in Brazil remained at 79 percent. With the announcement of the election results, a very exciting race took place. So much so that the first results were drawing a graph in favor of Bolsonaro. Dilma Roussef, who was elected president of the Labor Party in 2014, experienced a similar turnaround in the elections. Still, Lula supporters watched the election uneasily for several hours. Lula quickly closed the gap as the polls in the northern regions of the country began to open. It took the lead, especially with results from regions such as Bahia, Pernambuco, Piaui and Ceara.

It was noteworthy that Bolsonaro finished the race with a margin of approximately 7 percent in the key Sao Paolo constituency, which has the most voters in Brazil. In Rio de Janeiro, too, the far-right candidate scored 11 percent. With Lula victorious in Brazil’s poorer northern regions and Bolsonaro in the southern regions, the electoral map created a divide as if it were split in two.


Lula’s victory in today’s elections was considered certain, but the possibility of finishing the elections in the first round was not certain. This was not the real surprise, although Lula supporters were disappointed that the election was going to the second round. Polls pointed to similar figures in Lula’s vote rates, but no polling company could have predicted that Bolsonaro would receive so many votes.

In the polls, it was suggested that Bolsonaro’s vote rate could be 41-42% at the most. All estimates of other surveys except this one were below 40 percent. Therefore, in the 2022 Brazilian elections, it was noticed that the polls could be misleading.


The fact that the elections took place in a tense atmosphere raises the possibility that tensions will rise even more in the second round. So much so that Bolsonaro, who went to vote with a bulletproof vest, signed many scandals during his presidency. Bolsonaro, who underestimated the pandemic measures with his anti-vaccine attitude during the Covid-19 period, also made a name for himself with the tree massacres in the Amazon region. In addition, there were serious increases in individual armament and poverty rates.

Bolsonaro’s relationship with the military also made him question whether he would accept the election results. The Brazilian President, known as “Latin America’s Donald Trump”, implicitly stated that he “could not leave his seat”, increasing the desire of Lula supporters to finish the election in the first round.


First off, Lula isn’t the Lula of the early 2000s. His party participated in these elections with a very broad alliance. Bolsonaro’s successful pull of the Brazilian right to an even more extreme position brought Lula together with different segments. The main component of the alliance is the Labor Party, one of the leftist parties of Latin America. However, other forces are in a wide spectrum ranging from the Brazilian Communist Party to some centre-liberal parties. All this seems to make it difficult for Lula to produce policy in parliament, whether he wins the second round or not.

On the other hand, there are some results that would require Lula to be optimistic about the second round. It seems very difficult for the third and fourth candidates of the elections to vote for Bolsonaro in the second round. The centre-right Brazilian Democratic Movement received 4.2 percent, and the centre-left Party of Democratic Labor received 3 percent. It was noteworthy that the leader of the Democratic Labor Party, Ciro Gomes, addressed Lula as ‘president’ in a television program where candidates were discussing shortly before the election. It should also be noted that he was previously a member of the Lula government.

The total votes of the other three socialist-communist candidates in the elections are around 1 percent. If we refer roughly to the first round, we can say that the majority of the remaining votes will go to Lula. Therefore, it seems that the turnout rate will be decisive in the elections.