Sunday’s result was confirmation that President Jair Bolsonaro and Bolsonarism will remain a significant force in Brazilian politics. Earlier this year that had appeared in doubt, following his disastrous handling of the COVID-19 Pandemic and emergence of independent conservative groupings, such as Brazil Union (UNIAO), but the first round of the Brazilian Presidential Election saw former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, of the Worker’s Party (PT), fall short of an outright victory. Lula did largely as expected, obtaining 48% of the vote, yet President Bolsonaro of the Liberal Party (PL) greatly outperformed expectations, obtaining 43% after polling consistently in the low-to-mid 30s throughout 2022. The PL also secured 19 of 27 available Senate seats and performed strongly in Brazil’s lower house, maintaining a strong position for the Brazilian right.

Lula is still expected to win in the second round later this month, yet it will likely be a tight victory within five percentage points. In theory, the outcome of the second-round centres on the destination of voters who backed candidates of the centre-right Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB) and centre-left Democratic Labour Party (PDT) who polled 4% and 3% respectively. Polling has shown a majority of those voters favour Lula. Even if that is an overestimation, it would take an astounding swing for enough Bolsonaristas to emerge to carry the current President to victory.

A close second-round result increases the probability that Mr Bolsonaro might contest the election. The success of any such attempt, however, still depends on a greater level of active support amongst Brazil’s security forces than there is evidence for. The presence of ex-military personnel in his government and the President’s substantial backing amongst Brazil’s police force does not confirm support for overturning an election, with the maximum risk likely their refusal to deal with a Bolsonaro-led insurrection. Yet that the loyalties of Brazil’s security forces are being questioned at all is testimony to Mr Bolsonaro’s continued dominance of Brazilian politics.