By Seda Sevencan
ISTANBUL (AA) - Polls in Brazil closed on Sunday as the country held elections to choose a new president, with the Supreme Election Court announcing that vote counting has begun.
Polling stations closed at 5 p.m. local time (2000GMT). People headed to the polling booths to vote for electing the president and vice president for the next four years.
Eleven candidates competed in the election, including favorites left-wing Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva -- a former president -- and far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro.
In the presidential race, if none of the candidates get more than 50% of the vote, the two front-runners will compete in a runoff on Oct. 30.
Lula, a former union leader, was a candidate during the 2018 presidential election until a corruption and money laundering conviction curtailed his political aspirations. He was sent to prison and Bolsonaro, a former army captain, won the presidency.
In 2019, Lula was released from prison after his convictions were overturned by the Supreme Court, allowing him to run again for office.
For over a year, Bolsonaro has also cast doubt on whether he would respect the election results, raising concerns about Brazil's electronic voting system without providing evidence.
The October election will be the first since Bolsonaro took office in January 2019 as fears political violence persist, with rights groups suggesting he may contest the vote and reports emerging of Bolsonaro backers killing supporters of Lula amid the charged environment.
The polls indicate a possible first round win for Lula, though some observers forecast a tighter race.