On Sunday, Brazil will be holding a second round of elections to choose their next president. Brazilians are facing a choice between a popular far-right candidate viewed by many as brash and insulting while the incumbent Workers Party candidate lags behind in popularity due to major discontent with the country's economy and security as well as corruption scandals.
The top two candidates going on to the second round are far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro and leftist Fernando Haddad. According to a poll by the election website Eleiçao 2018, in the first round, Bolsonaro received around 46 percent of valid votes, while Haddad received a little over 29 percent—but not one of the 13 initial candidates earned more than 50 percent of the vote, resulting in this second round. Bolsonaro has a chance of winning the second round. In this week's poll by the election research institute Datafolha 56 percent of voters are planning to vote for him. It is also a 3 point loss from last week's numbers, and now 44 percent of voters are planning to vote for Haddad.
Brazilians both in Brazil and abroad have picked sides, as voting is mandatory for people ages 18 to 70, including people who consider themselves to be politically centrist.
Miguel Albanez, a pastor at the Brazilian Baptist Church in Los Angeles, used to support the Workers' Party, but he finds it hard to do so now with their leader being in jail on corruption charges. The major corruption scandal was discovered in 2014, when Brazil's Finance Ministry found unusual bank transactions with the state-owned oil company Petrobras. The investigation of politicians and their roles in the Petrobras corruption scandal is called Lava Jato, where it was found that over USD $2 billion were accepted in bribes by Brazilian government officials, resulting in over 200 convictions.
"I would align more with the center than with the left or the right, but I am against what has been going on in Brazil especially in terms of corruption and money embezzlement," Albanez said. "I think it's time for a change in Brazil."
Like in the United States and many countries, Brazil's election is revealing signs of deep political polarization. Brazilian American musician Beto noted one way that the election between Bolsonaro and Haddad is a bit different.
"[In the U.S.] the difference is that there's such a large proportion of the electorate that doesn't vote because they don't have to," Beto said. "But in Brazil, because everyone casts the ballot and is required to vote, the polarization is more complete."
Cesar Vasconcelos, another pastor at the Brazilian Baptist Church in Los Angeles, said this political polarization has been happening all over the world, as far-right candidates are pushing into office.
"I think it falls in a certain way in a movement you can see worldwide. The right is coming up in Europe and other countries," said Vasconcelos. "I think a lot of people can't stand any more traditional politicians and also the internet and social media definitely play a key role in this process."
Brazilians use the social media app WhatsApp to share information. Last week, news broke that political campaigners have been buying access to contact information of large groups of users, according to the BBC. Newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo also reported that companies are investing $3.2 million per group to spread fake news about the Workers' Party and Haddad on WhatsApp. According to the article, Bolsonaro's account only has one report of donation for digital media that is around $31,000 from the company AM4 Brasil Inteligência Digital. Undeclared donations by companies toward election campaigns is illegal, and Haddad and Ciro Gomes (third in votes in the first round) are suing and asking for Bolsonaro to be disqualified.
Mariana Leite, an actress that has been living the United States for seven years, is a centrist who is deeply opposed to Bolsonaro and plans to vote for the left, in part because of Bolsonaro's comments against immigration.
"My brother-in-law is Brazilian-Chinese; he is the first generation," Leite said. "He said that someone at his work made a joke: 'Ah when Bolsonaro wins, the Chinese will have to go back to China.' But he was born in Brazil and is 100 percent Brazilian. How do you think it feels for these people? It's going to be dangerous, and people won't be able to say anything."
Haddad represents the Workers' Party, which has been in power for over a decade and has a reputation for having become corrupt since taking power. Their leader, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, is in jail on corruption charges. Alexandra Vieira, a 38-year-old Portuguese and English teacher, said she plans to vote for Bolsonaro.
"I think Brazilians are very tired of being controlled by the [Workers] Party. People are seeing Bolsonaro as anti-corruption and hoping he will change things for the better," Viera said. "I don't agree with Bolsonaro's personal beliefs (and) I get why some people don't like him because of what he says about sexual choices and religion. But even with that I think he is better than Haddad."
Many are worried about Bolsonaro's vision for the future of Brazil—and his similarity and friendship with U.S. President Donald Trump. Sonia Santos, a singer in a Brazilian music group and long-time U.S. resident, said Bolsonaro will rely on the U.S. to help on environmental issues such as the Amazon forest. According to Folha de Sao Paulo, Bolsonaro's campaign is anti-ecological by planning to disband the Environmental Ministry and put the Agriculture Ministry in charge of environmental programs.
"What I see here is people, you (know), that is the ones that have big eyes on the Amazon? They want to put down the forest and make farms to create cows," Santos said. "They don't understand, they don't think that the world needs that green space there. The world needs those rivers. That's kind of a treasure that we have there. They don't know! And they don't look to be enlightened for this kind of subject."
It is not just eligible voters that are affected by this election. An 11-year-old Brazilian boy named Caio Maudonnet said he was sad when he saw the results of the first round of the elections and believes Bolsonaro will have a negative effect on the country if he wins.
"I think it's gonna impact Brazil in a really violent way. The cities are going to be more violent and you are going to feel that in the environment," Maudonnet said. "(Brazil) is going to be more of a sad place than a happy place, everybody thinks it is. So, I'm pretty sad about it."
Correction: A previous version of this story stated poll numbers from last week. The poll numbers are from this week. A previous version of this story. We also corrected the amount of money Bolsonaro reportedly has received. Changes are made at 7:40 p.m. on Oct. 26.