Bolsonaro and Lula are fighting for the runoff in Brazil

Far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro and left-wing challenger Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva received important endorsements on Tuesday as they prepared for their Oct. 30 battle for Brazil’s presidential election.

The two rivals are aggressively hunting for confirmation of their polarizing final battle after ending Sunday’s first round of voting by a narrower-than-expected five-point difference: 48 percent for ex-President Lula to 43 percent for Bolsonaro.

Both are struggling to win over the Brazilians who voted for the third and fourth-place finishers, center-right candidate Simone Tebet (four percent) and center-left candidate Ciro Gomes (three percent).

They will also campaign hard to woo those who cast blank or invalid ballots (three percent and two percent, respectively) or simply did not vote — 21 percent of the South American giant’s 156 million voters.

Bolsonaro garnered several key supports, including influential corruption-buster Sergio Moro, his former justice minister who left his government in protest in 2020.

Lula (2003-2010), meanwhile, received an important, if grudging, nod from Gomes.

The centre-left agitator served as a minister in Lula’s first government but later fell out with him and became one of his harshest critics.

– ‘Lula not an option’ –

“Lula is not an option,” wrote Moro, the ex-judge who led the massive “car wash” transplant investigation, on Twitter.

“His government was tainted by the corruption of democracy,” he said, declaring his support for Bolsonaro.

Moro is famous as the judge who jailed Lula, the biggest name taken down in “Car Wash,” an investigation that uncovered a widespread corruption web that stole billions from state oil company Petrobras.

He resigned from judgeship to become Bolsonaro’s justice minister in 2019, but resigned the following year, accusing the president of interfering in a police investigation targeting his inner circle.

The resignation was hugely damaging to Bolsonaro, who had been walking on an anti-corruption platform.

But the President said it was all “water under the bridge” now.

“It’s a new relationship from here on out,” he said. “There are no scores to pay.”

Brazil’s Supreme Court overturned Lula’s controversial corruption convictions last year, ruling that Moro was biased in the case.

Moro attempted to run as a presidential candidate himself this year but failed to garner enough support and opted instead for the Senate, winning a seat for the southern state of Parana.

Bolsonaro also received confirmations from the governors of Brazil’s second and third largest states, Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro – newly re-elected Romeu Zema and Claudio Castro respectively.

He also scored one from outgoing Governor Rodrigo Garcia of Sao Paulo, Brazil’s most populous and wealthiest state, who lost his own re-election bid.

– ‘The Only Exit’ –

Lula’s approval of Gomes’ Democratic Labor Party (PDT) came despite a long history of animosity between the two men.

Gomes reluctantly aligned himself with the party leadership, saying in a video he “supports” the endorsement as “the only way out under the circumstances”.

Lula also appears to be garnering support from third-place candidate Tebet, a centre-right senator and anti-abortion Catholic who may be key to attracting social conservative voters.

She has indicated that she is willing to support Lula. But winning over her party, the Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB), which has a strong pro-Bolsonaro wing, will be another matter.

“Make your decision soon. Mine has already been made,” Tebet told the split party’s leadership.