Thousands of Brazilians queue to vote in Dublin seeking to end ‘hell’ of Bolsonaro

Many waiting to cast vote on North Great George’s Street were wearing red in support of left-wing ex-president Lula

Thousands of Brazilians in Ireland queued for several hours to cast overseas votes in the country’s presidential election, where left-wing former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is seeking to unseat right-wing incumbent Jair Bolsonaro.

One of those waiting in a line that snaked up and down North Great George’s Street several times, Francioli Olivera, said Bolsonaro’s presidency had been “hell” for Brazilians.

“I am so happy” she said as she believed the left would win among Brazilian voters in Ireland. “We’re waiting for a few hours for this but I think it’s worth it,” she said.

Many of those waiting to vote were wearing red in support of Lula, who polls have indicated is the favourite in the race.

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Ms Olivera, who has lived in Ireland for six years, criticised the current Brazilian president’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“What can I say about Bolsonaro? He’s hell for people who live in Brazil. He was terrible about coronavirus, he just don’t take care about the population,” she said.

Luciene Braga, who was queueing to vote with her husband, said Bolsonaro had been “the worst president”, who she said had been racist and homophobic. “During the pandemic he was awful, we lost a lot of people,” she said.

Wearing a “make Lula president again” red t-shirt, Ms Braga said the incumbent had “destroyed institutions” in Brazil.

The couple, who moved to Ireland earlier this year, had concerns Bolsonaro would not accept the results of the election if he lost as projected.

“I’m living here, but I’m thinking of my daughter and my family that is there. We have concerns, but we have institutions that are showing they will support Lula in the results of the elections,” Ms Braga said.

Andre Carlos Pereira Rodrigues (24), whose family emigrated to Ireland when he was eight-years-old, was waiting in line to vote for Bolsonaro.

“With the pandemic is hasn’t been great for anybody, but I believe in some of his principles and what he wants to do for the country,” he said. “Yes he can be a little bit, very forward in the way he speaks. He’s got a good intention, he knows the common people,” he said.

“It’s good to vote, so we come out to vote, let people know our voice,” he told The Irish Times.

While his family had previously voted for Lula, he cited corruption scandals of recent years as one reason he opposed the former left-wing president returning to power.

Draped in an LGBTQ+ pride flag, Karina Mello (32) said Lula would be better for minorities in Brazil. Bolsonaro had no empathy for people, and had been “really bad for our country,” she said.

More than 10,000 Brazilians in Ireland are registered to vote in the presidential election.

The single polling station was in the Erin School of English, on North Great George’s Street in Dublin city centre, with many people waiting more than two hours in a queue to vote.

A winner could be announced within hours after polling stations closing on Sunday evening.

If no candidate wins more than half of the votes, excluding blank and spoiled ballots, the top two finishers go to an October 30th run-off, prolonging the tense campaign season.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is a reporter with The Irish Times