Far right faces leftist in Brazil presidential runoff
Far-right Congressman and former Army captain Jair Bolsonaro won nearly half the votes in Brazil’s first-round presidential election on Sunday, marking a major shift to the right in Latin America’s largest nation fueled by voters’ anger at corruption.
Iran press/ America: In what is likely to be a deeply polarizing race, Bolsonaro, who has praised Brazil’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship, will face leftist Fernando Haddad, the former mayor of Sao Paulo, in a second round of voting on Oct. 28.
Bolsonaro won 46.3 percent of valid ballots, far ahead of Haddad’s 29 percent but short of the outright majority needed to avoid an runoff, electoral authorities said.
Bolsonaro, 63, had surged in recent opinion polls on a wave of antipathy towards Haddad’s Workers Party, whose leader is serving 12 years in prison after a corruption conviction, Reuters reported.
Bolsonaro, who has vowed a brutal crackdown on crime and graft, gained momentum after a near-fatal stabbing at a rally one month ago that kept him from campaigning.
Some pundits have dubbed Bolsonaro a “Tropical Trump” because of his large social media following, pugnacious demeanor and multiple wives. He faces federal hate crime charges for racist and misogynist rants.
His commanding lead heading into the second round marks another advance by populist, anti-establishment leaders, who have won power in eastern Europe, the United States and the Philippines.
In his first public remarks celebrating his lead in the vote, Bolsonaro pledged to slash the size of the state, reduce the cabinet to 15 ministries, cut payroll taxes and privatize or shut many state companies.
In video streamed live over social media with economic advisor Paulo Guedes sitting by his side, Bolsonaro said he would have clinched the race with a majority of votes on Sunday if it were not for faulty voting machines. He provided no details.
In the most polarized election since the end of military rule in 1985, Bolsonaro is backed by a group of retired officers like Mourão who have criticized Workers Party governments and publicly advocate military intervention if corruption continues.