Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva told supporters in Sao Paulo that his victory in the current race was all but assured, after he took a narrow lead in the first round on Sunday evening.
“It’s just a matter of time, of waiting a few more days for us to talk more, to improve our programme, and to persuade more people,” Lula told them. “We can win these elections to recover the dignity of the Brazilian people, the right to live, to work, to live and to study.”
With 99.9 percent of the votes counted, the country’s 35th president was in the lead with 48.4 percent, to right-wing incumbent Jair Bolsonaro’s 43.2 percent. It was a much smaller lead than the opinion polls predicted, which had Bolsonaro down on 33-35 percent.
Lula, who launched a raft of social reforms during his 2003-2010 presidency, was jailed for corruption in 2017 but subsequently had his conviction annulled, allowing him to run again.
Bolsonaro has faced criticised over his approach to the COVID-19 pandemic and his environmental policies, which have increased deforestation of the Amazon.
With no candidate receiving over 50 percent of the vote, the race now goes forward to a head-to-head run-off on October 30.