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Brazil’s far-right candidate falls short of election stunner

Brazil’s far-right candidate falls short of election stunner

Bolsonaro won 46 percent of the vote, barely 4 percent short of a first-round victory.

Mr. Bolsonaro used the rest of the interview to reiterate his disdain for gay rights, dismiss the suggestion that he was a misogynist (he once called a congressional colleague "too ugly to rape") and pledge to demolish his adversary in the October 28 runoff vote, Workers' Party candidate Fernando Haddad.

Recent polls showed Jair Bolsonaro of the far-right Social Liberal Party taking the lead in public support, followed by the leftist Workers' Party's candidate Fernando Haddad, who replaced former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva after Lula was banned from running.

But analysts said they weren't betting on him turning things around for October 28's second-round vote.

Jair Bolsonaro, whose last-minute surge nearly gave him an electoral stunner, had 46 per cent compared to 29 per cent for former Sao Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad, according to figures from Brazil's Superior Electoral Tribunal with 99.9 per cent of the vote counted. Exit polls should be broadcast at 7 p.m. and results will start flowing shortly after that because Brazil uses an electronic voting system.

This was an election full of surprises. And he must make a sweeping mea culpa for the party's past mistakes, something he was not permitted to do in the first round - including a pledge that he will not interfere with the graft probe known as Lava Jato. "Haddad and Bolsonaro will both lead populist governments". A year ago over 60,000 Brazilians were murdered, a death toll higher than any other country, including those with civil wars.

"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.

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"Other Bolsonaro voters expressed their bitterness, even though the result was close to pollsters' predictions". While the business community has largely coalesced around Bolsonaro because of these proposals, detractors have noted that as a congressman he often voted and espoused views that were the exact opposite.

The election was a seismic shift for this nation of more than 200 million people, where the left has won the past four elections but deep divisions have opened in the wake of a massive corruption scandal and the 2016 impeachment of then-President Dilma Rousseff.

Lula's government, helped by booming commodity prices, had seen social mobility and millions lifted out of extreme poverty through social programmes.

Haddad, addressing his own supporters, called the looming run-off "a golden opportunity", and challenged Bolsonaro to a debate. His supporters do not seem anxious by his lack of a coherent programme of government, or by his inexperience in an executive role.

Environmentalists are most concerned with Bolsonaro's plans to stop recognising new native reservation lands and to merge the agriculture and environment ministries under the control of a farm lobby representative.

Bolsonaro is nostalgic for the days of the 21-year-long dictatorship, which ended in 1985. He has also indicated that he will surround himself with former military officers, like his running mate who is a retired general. Schools would become military colleges with emphasis on discipline. The evangelical caucus picked up many seats, as did the agro-industry lobby, which wants to shut down Brazil's already badly weakened environmental protection agency, and reduce or cancel Indigenous land designations, opening much more of the Amazon rain forest to logging and mining.

The outcome of Brazil's first-round presidential election reveals a deeply polarized, angry and alienated electorate.


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