Brazilians vote in tense presidential race led by right-winger

Adjust Comment Print

Bolsonaro, an outspoken apologist for Brazil's 1964-1985 military dictatorship, came up short of a majority needed to avoid the runoff.

Bolsonaro's once-tiny Social Liberal Party (PSL) was poised to land 51 of the 513 seats in the lower house of Congress, according to projections by investment firm XP Investimentos, trailing only his rival Fernando Haddad's leftist Workers' Party (PT), which is expected to take 57 seats.

Bolsonaro's victory in the first round is the latest in an alarming trend worldwide, as right-wing leaders with authoritarian politics have risen to prominence across Europe and the United States.

"We'll speak with anybody who wishes to talk with us now, which is interesting because many of them did not want to have a dialogue with us before the first-round vote", Lorenzoni said. He has called the former dictatorship "beautiful", raising questions about his commitment to democracy. "If the PT is voted into power and there is a military intervention, I would support it".

The results from the presidential race told only part of the story.

Some voters - particularly women - wore "Not Him" slogans to polling stations, declaring their fierce opposition to Bolsonaro.

More news: Trump does victory lap after bitter Supreme Court battle

"I didn't like any of the candidates and I felt obliged to choose the lesser of two evils", said Frederico Vasconcellos, a 68-year-old retired metalworker.

Glauco Peres, a University of São Paulo political scientist, predicted that in the absence of concrete policy proposals, fear would remain Bolsonaro's main weapon as the second round approached.

The Brazilian real has surged on the results.

"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. And now it has failed to nominate a candidate who could appeal to conservative voters. Bolsonaro has been endorsed by the fifth-place finisher, potentially handing him nearly half the votes he needs for a win.

Bolsonaro only needs a few more points to secure victory, but Haddad's supporters vowed Monday to launch a tough fight to make up ground after he finished a distant second in the first round.

"When you go to the second round with a huge spread between you and the runner-up, and you are already very close to that 50-percent-plus-one, you're at peace", said Alexandre Bandeira, a political strategist in Brasilia.

More news: Melania Trump praises Kavanaugh, laments attention on her clothes - USA

Mr Bolsonaro is projected to take 45% of the vote and Mr Haddad 28%.

"Our discourse will basically stay the same - one of union". Haddad's best chance of staging an upset, observers say, is to motivate those voters to cast ballots for him.

For voters, Bolsonaro and Haddad represent starkly different visions for the future. A once wildly popular figure who led millions of Brazilians out of poverty, Lula is now in jail on corruption charges and was barred from running.

But poorer Brazilians, who benefited most from the heyday during Lula's time in office from 2003 to 2010, want a return to good times and hope Haddad can deliver.

Nearly two-thirds of the electorate are concentrated in the more populous south and southeast of Brazil where its biggest cities, Sao Paulo and Rio Janeiro, are located - and where Bolsonaro holds a commanding lead.

More news: Senate confirms Kavanaugh to high court