Brazil Presidential Contenders in Final Push Before Vote

(Bloomberg) -- Brazilians decide their president for the next four years on Sunday, and the two remaining candidates are focusing last efforts in voter-packed areas in Brazil’s southeast.

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Incumbent Jair Bolsonaro held campaign events in Belo Horizonte, the capital of Minas Gerais state, including a motorcade with his supporters.

The state is traditionally seen as a must-win for presidential hopefuls, as all previous Brazilian leaders won the tally there when they were elected. The latest polls have shown Bolsonaro trailing his opponent, former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, among Minas Gerais voters.

Lula, on the other hand, spent the day in the country’s most populous state, São Paulo, where he attended a campaign event in the state capital’s landmark Avenida Paulista. Polls show Lula behind Bolsonaro in voting intentions in São Paulo.

In a press conference before joining his supporters, Lula criticized Bolsonaro and his allies for “trying to mislead voters with their their latest wave of fake news.”

The former president mentioned one of Bolsonaro’s claims -- that he would end an entrepreneurship program if elected -- retorting that he had actually created that program. “This country needs a person who guarantees legal and social stability, who keeps a predictable relationship with society,” said Lula.

What Bloomberg Economics Says:

“Bolsonaro favors privatization and a relatively modest tax revamp. Lula wants state-owned firms to take a more active role in the economy, and a serious overhaul of the tax system.

The differences matter for investors -- they have clear implications for stock markets. The economic impact is harder to gauge. We believe a broad tax reform would deliver larger productivity gains than privatization alone, and could provide a much-needed boost to long-term growth.”

Adriana Dupita, BE Economist

Lula said if elected, he will travel abroad immediately to repair Brazil’s international relationships. The potential countries include the US and Argentina. Former Uruguay President Jose Mujica accompanied Lula through the last campaign day.

In Minas Gerais, Bolsonaro met allies after the motorcade in Belo Horizonte, including the recently re-elected state governor and new members of Congress. The president closed the event without addressing the crowd.

In São Paulo, one of Bolsonaro’s most loyal allies in Congress, deputy Carla Zambelli, was recorded chasing a man and even firing shots in the streets of the upscale district Jardins, local newspaper Valor reports. On her social media accounts, she said she was retaliating against an attacker.

Polls

Polls published Saturday evening show a stable landscape ahead of Sunday’s vote, with both Lula and Bolsonaro fluctuating within the pollsters’ margin of error. According to a Datafolha poll, Lula appears with 52% of valid votes and Bolsonaro with 48%. A poll carried out by Quaest shows the same scenario.

Datafolha polled 8,308 people in 253 cities; Quaest interviewed 2,000 people, with both polls being carried out between Oct. 28-29.

Another pollster, Ipec, shows Lula with 54% of the valid votes, while Bolsonaro has 46%. The poll interviewed 4,272 people in 236 cities. All polls have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Last Debate

The two candidates faced off in a final debate held by Globo TV on Friday evening, although it is unlikely the meeting will cause major shifts in the presidential race. Polls show more than 90% of people have already made up their minds, leaving a narrow portion of voters to be swayed.

The debate was heated, with the candidates exchanging accusations of being corrupt and liars.

Lula seems to have performed better, at least based on social media reaction. Monitoring done by Quaest showed Bolsonaro received 64% of negative mentions on social media during the debate. Lula got 49%.

However, a poll published Saturday morning by MDA shows Bolsonaro inching closer to Lula, with the candidates technically tied. Lula’s voting intentions marked 51.1% of valid votes, compared to 53.5% on Oct. 16, while Bolsonaro scored 48.9%, up from 46.5% previously. The valid votes exclude blank and null votes.

MDA interviewed 2.002 voters in person between Oct. 26-28. The poll has a 2.2 percentage point margin of error, with 95% confidence level.

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