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Bolsonaro and Lula Head to a Runoff

Brazil is now entering a period of deep uncertainty and potential tumult as the Oct. 30 runoff looms.

By , a reporter at Foreign Policy.
A man sells towels of the Brazilian presidential candidates.
A man sells towels of the Brazilian presidential candidates.
A man stands by a street stall selling towels of Brazilian presidential candidates Luis Inácio Lula da Silva and Jair Bolsonaro in São Paulo on Sept. 23. The stall displays a sign with the number of towels of each candidate sold so far. Gustavo Minas/Getty Images

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at Brazil’s election results, Burkina Faso’s coup, and Russia’s retreat from a strategic Ukrainian city.

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Bolsonaro and Lula Head to Oct. 30 Runoff

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at Brazil’s election results, Burkina Faso’s coup, and Russia’s retreat from a strategic Ukrainian city.

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


Bolsonaro and Lula Head to Oct. 30 Runoff

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his rival, leftist former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva—widely known as Lula—will head to a runoff for the presidency on Oct. 30, after neither won at least 50 percent of the vote during the first round of voting on Sunday. 

Bolsonaro, the far-right incumbent, had an unexpectedly strong showing of support on Sunday, winning 43.2 percent of the vote and exceeding what pollsters had originally predicted. Lula, who had held a commanding lead in the polls, ultimately secured 48.4 percent—maintaining his lead but by a smaller margin than expected. 

Given Bolsonaro’s record of casting doubt on Brazil’s voting system, recruiting the military in his efforts, and undermining the country’s institutions, analysts and experts warn that his continued influence is a worrying sign for the future of the world’s fourth-largest democracy

“[M]ake no mistake about it, the odds look substantially bleaker for Brazilian democracy right now than they did 24 hours ago,” tweeted Filipe Campante, an international economics professor at Johns Hopkins University. “Bolsonaro will have a real shot at winning the runoff, and in that case we are in deep trouble.”

A Bolsonaro victory would also have disastrous environmental consequences, especially with his history of rolling back key protections and effectively enabling the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.

Brazil is now entering a period of deep uncertainty and potential tumult as the Oct. 30 runoff looms. Lula—the former president who left office with a record approval rating and then was later jailed in a sweeping corruption scandal, only to be freed on procedural grounds amid findings of prosecutorial misconduct— said he was gearing up to secure more support. 

“I love campaigning. And we have 28 more days. I love doing rallies, getting on a truck,” he tweeted. “It will be the first opportunity to have a face-to-face debate with the current president. So that we can make comparisons between the Brazil he built and the Brazil we built.”

But Bolsonaro’s strong performance on Sunday suggests that he may have left a permanent mark in Brazilian politics—regardless of who triumphs in the runoff.

“No matter who wins the presidency, Bolsonarismo will be very much alive in Congress and the Senate,” tweeted Oliver Stuenkel, an associate professor of international relations at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation in São Paulo. “If Lula wins, he is likely to face fierce resistance.”


The World This Week

Monday, Oct. 3: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz meets French President Emmanuel Macron.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken begins his trip to Latin America.

Tuesday, Oct. 4: The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs makes a flash appeal for assistance in Pakistan.

Wednesday, Oct. 5: Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez meets Scholz.

Thursday, Oct. 6: The U.N. Human Rights Council discusses Cambodia, Georgia, and Yemen.

Friday, Oct. 7: The winner of the Nobel Peace Prize is announced.

Lesotho holds parliamentary elections.


What We’re Following Today

Burkina Faso’s coup. Military officials have ousted Burkina Faso’s president, Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, just eight months after he took power in another coup. Officials said they were acting over Damiba’s failure to combat the country’s Islamist insurgency and deteriorating security situation. Capt. Ibrahim Traoré, who led the coup, is Burkina Faso’s new ruler

Russia retreats from strategic city. Russian forces have retreated from Lyman, a strategic hub in Ukraine’s Donetsk region and one of the Ukrainian territories that Russia has illegally annexed. Since Russia now claims Donetsk as its own, Western officials said the retreat was a heavy blow to the Kremlin’s war effort.

The withdrawal marks a “significant political setback” since Lyman is in “a region Russia supposedly aimed to ‘liberate’ and has attempted to illegally annex,” Britain’s Ministry of Defence tweeted


Keep an Eye On

Indonesia’s soccer tragedy. At least 125 people were killed and hundreds more were reportedly wounded in a stampede after a soccer game in Indonesia on Saturday, making it one of the deadliest soccer disasters in history. 

After fans stormed the field when the home team lost, witnesses and officials say clashes ensued and police fired tear gas into the crowds and stands, sparking mass panic and a stampede as people rushed to escape the stadium. Indonesian President Joko Widodo has ordered an investigation into the incident. 

U.S.-Venezuela prisoner swap. Venezuela has released seven detained Americans in return for the freedom of two of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s relatives, who had been sentenced to 18 years in jail in the United States. U.S. President Joe Biden said the freed Americans, who included oil executives, had been wrongfully detained


This Weekend’s Most Read

Putin’s World Is Now Smaller Than Ever by Angela Stent

The Russian Warship and the South China Sea by Alexander Wooley

Russia’s Stripped Its Western Borders to Feed the Fight in Ukraine by Robbie Gramer and Jack Detsch


Odds and Ends 

German discount chain Lidl “must destroy” its supply of chocolate bunnies, a Swiss court ruled last week, following a yearslong trademark dispute between the retailer and Swiss chocolatier Lindt. The verdict is a triumph for Lindt, which first created its distinct gold, foil-wrapped chocolate bunnies in 1952 and had taken Lidl to court over the product, the New York Times reported

Chocolate lovers will be at peace knowing that decision doesn’t require the chocolate to go to waste; it can probably still be remolded into, say, a less controversial puppy or kitten shape. The ruling “does not necessarily mean that the chocolate as such has to be destroyed,” the court said in a statement

Christina Lu is a reporter at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @christinafei

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