BRASILIA, Oct 1 (Reuters) – 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 showed on Saturday.
Brazil’s most polarized election in decades will decide whether to return to power a former president who spent time in jail on corruption convictions or a right-wing populist who has attacked the voting system and threatened to contest defeat.
A CNT/MDA poll published on Saturday said Lula would win 48.3% of the valid votes, 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.
If no one among the 11 candidates gets more than 50% of votes, excluding blank and spoiled ballots, the two front-runners – almost certainly Lula and Bolsonaro – would go to second round vote on Oct. 30.
The MDA poll commissioned by the national transport lobby CNT shows Bolsonaro has chipped away at half of Lula’s lead, which is now down to 7.9 percentage points point (44.2% for Lula and 36.3% for Bolsonaro).
Two other major pollsters Datafolha and IPEC have projected Lula winning outright and will publish their last polling at 6 p.m. (2100GMT).
Bolsonaro, a former army captain who spent 28 years as a Congressman who is pro-gun, anti-gay and against abortion, was swept into office in 2018 on a wave of conservative sentiment and opposition to Lula’s Workers Party.
On Saturday, he will close his re-election campaign with two rallies by motor-bike supporters in Sao Paulo and Joinville, Santa Catarina state.
Lula’s Workers Party, meanwhile, has booked space on Sao Paulo’s main Paulista Avenue on Sunday night to celebrate victory by the 77-year-former union leader and party founder.
Brazil’s electronic voting system, which Bolsonaro has repeatedly criticized as vulnerable to fraud without providing evidence, allows the national electoral authority, the TSE, to quickly tally results within hours after polls close at 5 p.m. (2000GMT).
The head of the TSE, Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes called on Brazilians by Twitter to celebrate the country’s democracy by turning out to vote “in peace, security and harmony, respect and freedom.”
Due to Bolsonaro’s attacks on the voting system and the prospect of conflict, the TSE has invited an unprecedented number of international observers to this year’s election.
(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; editing by Diane Craft)