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Brazilians head to polls in'polarized' presidential race

Description:Brazilians went to the polls on Sunday in general elections widely described as highly "polarized," with the two leading candidates on opposite ends of the political spectrum.


Image provided by Brazil's Presidency shows Brazil's President Michel Temer (R) registering to cast his vote during Brazil's general elections in a polling station in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Oct. 7, 2018. [Photo/Xinhua]

Brazilians went to the polls on Sunday in general elections widely described as highly "polarized," with the two leading candidates on opposite ends of the political spectrum.

As he cast his ballot in Rio de Janeiro, right-wing populist Jair Bolsonaro, of the Social Liberal Party (PSL), who led pre-election surveys with a commanding 36.7 percent lead, said he was confident of winning enough votes to forgo the need for a runoff later this month.

"It ends today," the tough-talking candidate said when asked about the possibility of having to hold a second electoral round on Oct. 28.

"We have the support of important sectors of society: business owners, merchants, evangelical leaders, good people of Brazil who want to get away from socialism ... People who want a liberal economy, with less state (regulation), who want to defend family values," Bolsonaro said.

Haddad, of the left-leaning Workers' Party (PT), which has been in power for most of the past 15 years, cast his ballot in Sao Paulo.

Haddad went into the elections with 25 percent voter support after he was designated on Sept. 11 to replace the PT's initial candidate, the popular two-time ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Lula led the presidential polls but was disqualified from running due to his conviction on corruption charges he claims were politically motivated to prevent his reelection.

At a breakfast earlier in the day with members of a local metalworkers' union, Haddad said he expected to face off against Bolsonaro in a second round.

"There are people who don't want a runoff because in that case you have to present your arguments and compare the (rival) proposals. That exposure handicaps the candidate who has no proposals," said Haddad.

After casting his ballot at a school in Sao Paulo, Brazil's President Michel Temer referred to the current polarized climate, saying it would dissipate following the elections.

"The power belongs to the people. It won't belong to Bolsonaro or Haddad or whoever it is ... After the dispute is over, you'll see that all Brazilians are going to unite," said Temer.

The latest polls released Saturday night show Bolsonaro securing some 40 percent of the vote, but not the more than 50 percent needed to win the first round outright.

However, surveys indicate Bolsonaro would defeat Haddad in a runoff, by 45 to 43 percent, according to pollster Datafolha, or 45 to 41 percent, according to polling firm Ibope.

Voting is mandatory in Brazil, where more than 147 million people are eligible to vote for their next president, as well as governors, and local and federal legislators.

Source:Xinhua  Editor:Lucky

(Source_title:Brazilians head to polls in 'polarized' presidential race)