Can its poorest region call a halt to Jair Bolsonaro's risky politics?

09 October, 2018, 11:34 | Author: Charlene Valdez
  • Brazil’s right-wing Bolsonaro narrowly misses first round win in presidential election

Right-wing Brazilian Congressman Jair Bolsonaro is headed toward a second-round runoff against leftist former Sao Paulo mayor Fernando Haddad on October 28, according to exit polls and early results that indicate no candidate winning a majority in Sunday's presidential election.

Brazil's presidential candidate for the Workers' Party (PT), Fernando Haddad gestures after the first round of the general elections at a hotel, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Oct. 7, 2018.

Now, with 99 percent of the votes counted, Bolsonaro and Fernando Haddad of the Workers' Party will head to runoff elections on October 28.

The high-profile presidential race, however, may in the long-run pale in comparison to the significance of what happened in congress. Mr. Bolsonaro's previously obscure Social Liberal Party jumped from eight seats to 51, as part of a major shift to the right.

"I think we're going to continue with the same polarisation", if either Mr Haddad or Mr Bolsonaro wins, said Victor Aversa, a 27-year-old massage therapist who voted for centre-left candidate Ciro Gomes, who had been polling third.

The former Army captain will now face leftist opponent Fernando Haddad in the second round of the presidential election, with Bolsonaro enjoying a surge in support. He won 46.3 percent of valid ballots, far ahead of Haddad's 29 percent but short of the outright majority needed to avoid a second round, electoral authorities said.

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That made Bolsonaro the odds-on favorite in a runoff election later this month that could hurl Brazil into new political territory.

"He will also have to try to attack Bolsonaro on issues that actually affect the mindset of the voter".

Had he pocketed more than 50 percent, he would automatically have become the president-elect.

Lula, who founded the Workers Party and was president until 2010, is serving 12 years in prison for a bribery conviction.

Other Brazilians banged pots in protest when Haddad, 55, voted in Sao Paulo, the mega-city he once ruled as mayor.

Bolsonaro, whose campaign was called "Brazil above all, God above everyone", has pushed a nostalgic narrative that he can bring back better times.

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"Bolsonaro has an advantage over Haddad, he's in a growth curve. for him to lose from here, it's not about Haddad getting it right, it's about him making mistakes", he added.

Haddad, though, has his own challenge.

"We've had enough of corruption".

His once-tiny Social Liberal Party (PSL) was poised to become the second-largest force in Congress after legislative elections also held on Sunday, giving a boost to his agenda of slashing taxes and state involvement in the economy.

He is riding a wave of anger at the establishment after the uncovering of one of the world's largest political graft schemes, opposition to a return to power by the leftist Workers Party (PT) blamed for much of that corruption, and fears about spiking crime in the country with more murders than any other.

Thirty parties won seats in the lower house, up from 25 represented there before the vote.

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"I am certain that if this hadn't happened, we would have known the name of the president of the republic tonight", Bolsonaro said in a live Facebook video feed.

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