Many people, myself included, were sure that President Jair Bolsonaro’s misrule would end in Brazil’s first round of elections, held on October 2. Polls had Workers’ Party opponent and former president Lula da Silva consistently well ahead, and just about on course to exceed the 50 percent of the vote required to take the presidency without the need for a runoff. Bolsonaro was shown running 14 points behind “Lula,” but the polls had significantly underestimated the far-right president’s support. It was a shock to nearly all when Bolsonaro won 43 percent to Lula’s 48 percent—taking them both to a second round of elections set for October 30.
As we brace for the outcome, we must also reckon with the fact that that a president who openly promotes state violence against people who use drugs has not been rejected by the public, and that harm reduction in Brazil faces an uphill battle no matter who prevails.