Brazil Swings to the Far Right as Bolsonaro Wins Presidency

Muriel Hammond
October 31, 2018

Bolsonaro of the Social Liberal Party had 55 percent of the vote while Haddad, who took over for jailed ex-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva as the leftist Worker's Party candidate, had 44 percent with almost 97 percent of the votes counted Sunday evening.

His victory over leftist candidate Fernando Haddad marks a lunge to the right for Latin America's largest country, after a divisive campaign marked by widespread outrage at the political class - but also fears over Bolsonaro's denigrating remarks about women, gays and blacks.

Far-right lawmaker Jair Bolsonaro has won Brazil's presidential election, pledging to respect democratic principles, but also wanting to change the country's direction. He's now been announced as the president-elect.

Far-right populist Jair Bolsonaro had 56 percent of the votes in the run-off against left-wing hopeful Fernando Haddad, official results showed.

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The runner-up has vowed to "defend freedoms" of president-elect's opponents.

TRT World's Ediz Tiyansan has more from Rio de Janeiro.

The former Army captain and representative of the Liberal Social Party (PSL) has already phoned Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benitez, to express his intention to strengthen ties in case of being elected today, October 28 -as the president posted on Twitter-, the Vermelho website reported.

Several hundred PT demonstrators protested Bolsonaro's victory on Sao Paulo's main Paulista Avenue before police dispersed them using tear gas.

Bolsonaro was stabbed in the stomach last month during a rally in the city of Juiz de Fora, in Minas Gerais state. Voting machines furnished by the Brazilian government were transported to Framingham to facilitate the election. "For the first time I feel represented", Andre Luiz Lobo, 38, told AFP news agency.

A number of his supporters took to the streets outside his home in Rio de Janeiro to let off fireworks and wave Brazilian flags.


Bolsonaro, who has earned the nickname the "Trump of the Tropics", takes office on January 1.

And the U.S. president's spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders, said on Sunday: "President Trump called President-elect Bolsonaro of Brazil this evening to congratulate him and the Brazilian people on today's elections".

His admiration for dictatorships and strongmen deeply alarmed critics, who have pointed out that Brazil's democratic institutions are far newer and more fragile than those in the USA and many European countries. Bolsonaro's history of disparaging remarks is more widely known, including saying he would not love a gay son and would rather he died and telling a fellow member of Congress, a woman, "I would never rape you because you do not deserve it".

The left-winger had promised to bring back the boom years Brazil experienced under left-winger Lula da Silva, who led initial polls by a wide margin but was banned from running in the election due to a corruption conviction.

Bolsonaro is unabashedly nostalgic for Brazil's brutal military dictatorship (1964-1985), and has been accused of authoritarian tendencies.

Two years ago he commented that the dictatorship's mistake was "to torture and not kill" leftist dissidents, and during his campaign he vowed to send opponents "into exile or into prison".

The election was fought in a febrile and often violent atmosphere, with Brazilians bombarded by WhatsApp messages from Bolsonaro's camp attacking Haddad.

His endorsement could have given Haddad a big lift in the South American country's most polarized election in a generation.

"I don't really like either candidate", Elias Chaim, 23, an engineering student and music producer, told AFP at a polling station facing Rio's Copacabana beach.

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