Brazilians will head to the polls on October 2 in a presidential election driven by two veteran candidates: far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro and former center-left president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

With Lula leading in the polls, some analysts are saying the potential return to a Lula administration is emblematic of fatigue with Bolsonaro’s presidency following a response to COVID-19 pandemic that left the country with one of the highest death tolls in the world, further deforestation of the Amazon at a moment when wildfire season reaches new records, and persistent economic frustrations and concerns around food insecurity in a country once lauded for its economic growth.

Bolsonaro remains popular among wealthy and conservative voters as well as business leaders. He announced his candidacy with a speech focused on God, guns and family at a launch ceremony at the end of July. Meanwhile, Lula is leading in the polls among women, low income, and Black Brazilians and has been described as “campaigning on a message of a return to normalcy, decency, and the good years of his presidency.”

Lula’s return to politics had been anticipated following a 2021 Supreme Court decision to annul a controversial corruption conviction in 2018 that saw Lula spend 580 days in prison. Although the charges were overturned, Bolsonaro and his critics continue to level accusations of “massive corruption” against the former president, most recently in the first presidential debate.

As campaigning proceeds, election watchers are raising the alarm over President Bolsonaro’s ongoing attacks on Brazil’s electoral systems. They say a swirl of misinformation and disinformation could undermine public confidence in the election process, especially in the event of a close result. Human Rights Watch has called this election a “critical test for democracy and the rule of law in the country and in Latin America.”

In this episode of The Stream, we’ll take a look at the two leading candidates in Brazil’s presidential election, their key campaign issues and what’s at stake for Brazilians.

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