Far-right Bolsonaro wins 1st round Brazil vote, uncertain run-off looms

Lamar Ellis
October 9, 2018

Bolsonaro, a former army captain who has repeatedly expressed sexist, homophobic and racist opinions while supporting military dictatorship and torture, fell short of an outright victory by 4 percent in the first round of the elections and will face Haddad in an October 28 run-off.

With 92 percent of votes counted, Bolsonaro received 47 percent of valid ballots, far ahead of Haddad's 28 percent but short of the outright majority needed to avoid an October 28 runoff.

He picked up 47 percent of votes, against 28 percent for his nearest rival, left-wing candidate Fernando Haddad, electoral authorities said after counting ballots from 93 percent of polling stations.

Bolsonaro finished atop the 13-person field of candidates with more than 46 percent of the vote with most votes reported. Second-place Fernando Haddad finished on 28 percent.

Many voters are deeply distrustful of the PT and the party's figurehead, Lula, as a result of their involvement in corruption scandals in recent years.

"We're going to have a huge caucus, perfectly governable, to pass the bills that the society is demanding - to conclude the reforms that are underway", Bivar said, referring to stalled efforts to trim public pensions and close a budget deficit.

Preliminary results showed unexpectedly big congressional wins by Bolsonaro proxies including former military police Major Olimpio Gomes, his campaign manager in Sao Paulo, who was elected to the Senate. Bolsonaro has pledged to roll back gun controls and make it easier for police to kill.

Bolsonaro's popularity has surged as Brazilians, exasperated with a political system that orchestrated what prosecutors call the world's largest political graft schemes, see him as the best hope to destroy corruption-riddled traditional politics.

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For voters, Bolsonaro and Haddad represent starkly different visions for the future.

Bolsonaro has painted a nation in collapse, where drug traffickers and politicians steal with equal impunity, and moral rot has set in.

Haddad, a former education minister, had portrayed a vote for him as a show of support for Workers Party founder and former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, whom many voters associate with good economic times and falling inequality. He has promised to fight long-standing inequalities, scrap a major labour reform passed a year ago and invest more in education.

Polls predicted Mr Bolsonaro would come out in front on Sunday, but he far outperformed expectations, blazing past competitors with more financing, institutional backing of parties and free air time on television.

"They should be prepared for all registered voters to turn up".

"I think Haddad needs a bit of a miracle, it could be very, very hard for him [to win the presidency]", Oliver Stuenkel, a professor of worldwide relations at the Brazil-based Getulio Vargas Foundation higher education institute, said.

The former Army captain, dubbed "Tropical Trump" because of his nationalist agenda and anti-establishment tirades, won almost half the votes thanks to a surge in support sparked by growing anger at corruption and antipathy towards scandal-plagued traditional parties in Latin America's largest nation.

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