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Thousands attend final Bolsonaro, Lula rallies ahead of Brazil vote

  • 1 Oct 2022

Brazilian leftist leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva maintains a solid lead going into Sunday's presidential race against far-right incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro and is within sight of an outright victory, a fresh poll shows.

Some fear a possible Brazilian version of unrest that rocked US last year after Bolsonaro's political role model, Donald Trump, refused to accept electoral defeat. ( Reuters )

Far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro and leftist front-runner Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva have attracted thousands of supporters to their final campaign rallies in a last-ditch bid for votes on the eve of Brazil's polarising presidential election.

Bolsonaro, the 67-year-old president known for his gloves-off style, led one of his trademark motorcycle rallies from the north side of Sao Paulo to the city's Ibirapuera park on Saturday.

He grinned and waved at the head of a battalion of bikers decked out in black leather and the yellow and green of the flag as the crowd chanted: "Lula, thief, your place is in prison!"

About five kilometres from there, Lula, the 76-year-old ex-president who left office in 2010 with an unprecedented 87-percent approval rating, held his own rally on the economic capital's main avenue, Avenida Paulista.

A sea of red-clad supporters waved banners reading "Lula 2022" and shouting: "Jair, time to go!"

In line with campaigning rules, neither man addressed their supporters. Both rallies dispersed without incident.

A CNT/MDA poll published on Saturday said Lula would win 48.3 percent of the valid votes in Sunday's election, putting him statistically within reach of taking half of the votes, which would avoid a bruising run-off. The poll has a margin of error of 2.2 percentage points.

READ MORE: Football star Neymar backs Bolsonaro ahead of Brazil election

READ MORE: Thousands rally in Brazil in 'defence of democracy'

High tensions ahead of Sunday's election 

With the country deeply divided, tension is running high heading into the election which Lula is gunning to win outright, without the need for a runoff on October 30.

A poll from the Datafolha institute released on Thursday put the charismatic but tarnished leftist on the cusp of a first-round win, with 50 percent of valid votes to 36 percent for Bolsonaro.

To win outright, he would need 50 percent plus one vote.

Bolsonaro has repeatedly signalled he could challenge an election loss, saying "only God" can remove him from office and alleging, without evidence, fraud in Brazil's electronic voting system.

"We're going to win in the first round -- 64 percent of the vote," Bolsonaro's congressman son Eduardo said at Sunday's rally, repeating his father's claims that polls showing Lula in the lead are fake.

Former metalworker Lula, who governed Brazil from 2003 to 2010, said Friday he feared the incumbent would create "turmoil" if he lost.

Some fear a possible Brazilian version of the unrest that rocked the United States last year after Bolsonaro's political role model, Donald Trump, refused to accept electoral defeat.

"You always have to brace for trouble with Bolsonaro -- he's capable of anything," 52-year-old retiree Anderson Momesso told the AFP news agency at the Lula rally.

But 29-year-old teacher Ully Kotler said she was confident the "complete tragedy" of Bolsonaro's government had left him so isolated that "all he can do is stomp his feet and threaten a coup -- it won't go much beyond that."

Bolsonaro's popularity has been dented by a weak economy and his chaotic management of Covid-19.

READ MORE: Brazil judge restricts gun access as fears grow of violence in elections

READ MORE: Bolsonaro backer 'axes' Lula fan to death as Brazil election nears

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