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Niall Carson/PA
brazil votes

Brazilians queue at Croke Park to vote in Presidential run-off

In a previous round of voting, over 70% of votes from Brazilians in Ireland went to leftist candidate Lula

THOUSANDS OF BRAZILIANS living in Ireland are expected to cast their ballots at Croke Park today in the final round of their country’s presidential election.

Voters will be choosing between wildly different visions of their future offered by far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro and his leftist arch-rival, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Lula, a charismatic former president tainted by graft charges, narrowly won a first-round election and enters the finale the slight favorite with 52 percent of voter support, according to a final poll from the Datafolha institute on Saturday.

However, Bolsonaro, who scored 48 percent in the poll, performed better than expected last time around, and many pundits see the election as too close to call.

In the previous round of voting earlier this month, Lula had the support of almost three-quarters of Brazilian voters here, while Bolsonaro got just 17% of votes.

Voting today began at 8am and will finish at 5pm, with Brazil’s ambassador to Ireland, Marcel Biato, telling RTÉ that 12,000 people are registered to cast their ballot from Croke Park.

In Brazil, the president himself was among the first to vote, casting his ballot in Rio de Janeiro wearing a t-shirt in the yellow-and-green of the Brazilian flag – a symbol he has adopted as his own.

The electoral showdown caps months of mud-slinging and personal attacks between the two men in a dirty campaign plagued by disinformation that has deeply polarized the nation of 215 million people.

Lula’s camp has called Bolsonaro a “cannibal” and “little dictator.” In turn, the ex-president has repeatedly been derided as a “thief” and accused of making a pact with Satan.

Both candidates have their die-hard supporters, but many will merely vote for the candidate they detest least – or spoil their ballots.

The election has global ramifications: Conservationists believe the result could seal the fate of the stricken Amazon rainforest, pushed to the brink by fires and deforestation that have surged under Bolsonaro.

However, for Brazilians, issues of poverty, hunger, corruption and traditional values are top of mind.

An editorial in Nature magazine this week slammed Bolsonaro’s “eye-popping” record as “disastrous for science, the environment, the people of Brazil – and the world.”

Despite the clamor from abroad, the Amazon was only briefly touched upon in debates.

Lula, Brazil’s president from 2003 to 2010, has told voters the election is a choice between “democracy and barbarism, between peace and war.”

Brazil’s 156 million voters will cast their ballots until 8pm Irish time and the result of the electronic vote is expected a matter of hours afterwards.

With additional reporting from AFP

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