Brazil on the cusp of sharp move right with Bolsonaro

Brazil on the cusp of sharp move right with Bolsonaro

Brazil on the cusp of sharp move right with Bolsonaro

Jair Bolsonaro, whose last-minute surge nearly gave him an electoral stunner, had 46pc compared to 29pc for former Sao Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad, according to figures from Brazil's Superior Electoral Tribunal with 99.9pc of the vote counted.

He's been dubbed the "Brazilian Trump".

His appeal to voters for a return to "traditional values", his embrace of social media messaging as a way to communicate directly with the public, and his brash style have led to some Brazilian media dubbing him the "Trump of the Tropics". "They don't know what it was like under the dictatorship", he said.

Voting Sunday revealed the deep divisions generated by Bolsonaro and Haddad.

But Brazil is split over what cost to its democracy it may pay if it chooses Bolsonaro, a long-time congressman who has repeatedly praised the 1964-85 military regime but now vows to stick strongly to democratic ideals, a conversion many question.

All along, Brazilians have said their faith in leaders and their hopes for the future are waning.

"Haddad has a chance, but it is quite small, and he can not make any mistakes during the next three weeks", said Oliver Stuenkel, a professor of political science at the Getulio Vargas Foundation, a prestigious university in Sao Paulo. Haddad's best chance of staging an upset, observers say, is to motivate those voters to cast ballots for him.

Bolsonaro's Social and Liberal Party, which the candidate just joined this year, took 52 seats in the lower Chamber of Deputies in Congress, up from just one in the last election.

Bolsonaro is on course to become president; his success will be secured if he tones down his authoritarian speech and seek consensus with other political forces, but there are concerns about his commitment to fiscal reforms and privatisation.

Haddad's campaign headquarters in a Sao Paulo hotel broke out in cheers when exit polls showed that the race would go to a runoff. The surge gave the party 10 percent representation in the chamber, making it the second largest party after the Workers' Party, which won presidential elections in 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014. Since the vote, posts have circulated on Facebook lauding the north-east for potentially saving the nation and encouraging people to report abusive posts about the region's inhabitants.

"There is a lot at risk in this election", Haddad told his supporters.

The peace-and-love line was a mocking poke at former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who softened his left-wing rhetoric in his own first successful bid for office in 2002. "We want to unite all the democrats in Brazil". "Bolsonaro is openly anti-democratic, denigrates minorities and several of his supporters may take his victory as an authorization to attack [verbally or physically] their opponents", he said.

Geneis Correa, 46, a business manager in Brasilia, said she voted for Bolsonaro and would support a coup if the PT wins, blaming the party for rampant corruption.

That and upset victories in the Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais governor races underscored a wave of enthusiasm for Bolsonaro's allies and a backlash against the political establishment. Many Brazilians faced long waiting times to vote and a line of more than 500 people snaked outside one polling station in Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana neighbourhood.

"Haddad will have to distance himself from Lula and quickly pick a market-friendly finance minister".

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