The towering skyscrapers dominate the skyline from every direction, giving it a Gotham City feel.
Sao Paulo is a metropolis.
It is a vibrant financial center, home to more than 12 million people. It is home to the largest population in both the Western and Southern hemispheres of the Americas.
It is the largest Portuguese-speaking place in the world, and this includes Portugal.
Sao Paulo is a place of incredible wealth and terrible poverty.
It is a divided country. It is also the perfect metaphor for Brazil‘s current presidential election, which is tearing the country apart.
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They are voting in the second round across the country after neither Jair Bolsonaro the incumbent nor Lula da Silva, his main opponent, secured the necessary 50% plus one vote to win earlier this month.
The country is at a crossroads. It is impossible to predict where this country will end up.
Both candidates are populists at their own level.
Jair Bolsonaro has been compared to Donald Trump. He seems to imitate his friend from the United States in his approach to faith, gender issues and human rights. However, he also appears to bask in rudeness and have a tenuous adherence of fact if it doesn’t suit his agenda.
Trump and his advisors have cast the election as rigged against their favor.
His 26-year old son Flavio Bolsonaro claimed this week that his father was “the victim in the largest electoral fraud ever witnessed”, even though they have not provided any evidence.
If Bolsonaro wins, this allegation will likely be dropped immediately.
He could win, but the polls are close.
Lula da Silva supporters are worried that they may lose momentum after the first round. They also fear that their confidence in the polls might have been inflated and that the election results might not be what they expected.
Lula, an ex-president, wants to make a stunning comeback at the top of politics.
Exuberance and confidence at the Lula da Silva rally Brazil
He was arrested in 2018 on corruption allegations, but these were later dropped. He was the most beloved political leader in the world, with approval ratings in both the 80s and the 90s throughout his tenure in office, 2003 to 2011.
Many believed he would win the presidency in the first round of voting on 1 October. He didn’t win, and even worse, for his party and himself, President Bolsonaro narrowed the gap to just a few points.
Everything is up for grabs.
Although the polling companies of Brazil are highly sophisticated, many have questioned their results.
This area is known for its huge trade in election merchandise. You can find buttons, flags, caps, and towels on every street corner, as well as outside almost all subway stations and newsagents.
Saulo Adriel, his brother, opened a store on Paulista Avenue. This is the equivalent of Oxford Street in this city, and he does a lot of business with presidential merch.
Saulo keeps a running count of which candidate’s merchandise is most in demand by keeping a chalkboard at his feet, right next to the pedestrian crossing.
After the first round, he said it was neck and neck. But today, Lula seemed to be ahead. He was going to hold a rally in the same street.
Saulo claims that he has been adding up his numbers, which seems too close to call.
“I don’t know who will win,” he said. He said that this is the most polarized election in history.
“I believe there will be between 500,000 and one million votes differences between them, but I can’t really say who is going to win.”
He updated the chalkboard with two more sales for Lula while I was speaking to him.
It’s still so close that he plans to invest his money in both.
“My brother, and I have already invested 1,000 Bolsonaro supporters badges and 1,000 Lula badges. So it’s fifty-fifty.
Both candidates have completed their last election rallies.
Bolsonaro, President of Brazil, took to his bike in Belo Horizonte, Brazil’s southern region, and was met by thousands upon thousands of admiring fans, many also riding their motorcycles.
Belo Horizonte, a bellwether state, usually predicts who will win.
Lula da Silva, a partying supporter from Sao Paulo’s Paulista Avenue was welcomed by huge crowds as he led a parade through the city.
We met some university professors in the crowd, who were dressed in white instead of the usual red.
They explained that the rally was divided into different colours. White indicated that they were protesting for democratic principles.
Marcos Oliveira is a professor at University of Rio de Janeiro. He told me that he believes that the behavior of Donald Trump’s supporters following his loss in the election has been coopted by Bolsonaro’s group and threatens Brazilian democracy.
Bolsonaro said that the ideology behind Bolsonaro’s administration was the same as that used for Donald Trump.
“So, the structure and the narratives are identical, but we now know in advance what happened in the United States elections. It prepared the groundwork for our strike back.
His friend, Professor Ariel Silva, from Sao Paulo, stood next to him and nodded in agreement.
Silva said, “Their strategy is very comparable to Trump’s strategy in the last election. So we more or less know what to expect. But we are here for democracy to fight.”
It seems that either side could win on the final day.
Brazil’s problem is that there are deep divisions and it will be extremely difficult to reconcile the two sides.