Polls opened Sunday for the second round of the presidential elections, the most polarized of their kind in decades as voters choose between far-right Jair Bolsonaro and leftist Fernando Haddad who has been reducing his opponent's lead over the past few days, as he looks for a surprise upset victory.
Final opinion polls on Saturday showing Haddad gaining momentum and endorsements from leading legal figures in Brazil’s unprecedented fight against political corruption have raised hopes among his supporters that he can pull off what would be a stunning upset win.
Rodrigo Janot, Brazil's influential former prosecutor general under whose watch the country's unprecedented investigations and prosecutions of endemic political graft took place, tweeted late Saturday that he would vote for Haddad. That was a blow to Bolsonaro's work positioning himself as the only anti-corruption candidate.
"I think we are at the brink of a process that could push our democracy beyond its limits," Janot told Reuters late Saturday. "Freedom, equality and fraternity - always and at any cost."
But former center-left candidate Ciro Gomes refused to publicly endorse Haddad and said in a video on social media that he would not take sides in the election campaign, withholding support for Haddad of the Workers Party (PT).
Gomes, a former governor of Ceará state in the northeast, is influential in Brazil's poorest region. His endorsement could have given Haddad a big lift in the South American country's most polarized election in a generation.
While Haddad failed to get Gomes to endorse him, he won the backing on Saturday not just of Janot but of Brazil's most popular YouTube host, Felipe Neto, who has 27.7 million followers on his channel. A popular anti-corruption judge, Joaquim Barbosa, who jailed several top PT leaders for corruption, also came out for Haddad.
Haddad narrowed Bolsonaro's lead to 8 percentage points in an Ibope poll released late Saturday, a survey that gave him 46 percent compared with Bolsonaro's 54 percent.
As only two candidates remain and those figures discard voters who say they will annul their votes, that in practice means Haddad needs to win 5 percentage points to overtake the right-winger.