Far-Right Bolsonaro Wins First Round of Presidential Election

Pauline Gross
October 9, 2018

Bolsonaro, a 63-year-old former paratrooper vowing to crush crime in Latin America's biggest nation, received 46 percent of ballots - below the 50-percent-plus-one-vote threshold required for a first-round win, according to an official count of virtually all votes.

Brian Winter, the editor-in-chief of Americas Quarterly magazine, said the results underscored "the total disappearance of the Brazilian centre" and that Bolsonaro seemed nearly certain to glide to victory.

Many voters who supported the fourth-place finisher - conservative Alckmin - may break for Bolsonaro, putting him over the top. "I have to keep being the same person".

An exit poll also showed one of Bolsonaro's closest aides, former police Major Olimpio Gomes, scoring a surprise win in the Senate race in Sao Paulo state.

"Bolsonaro has an advantage over Haddad, he's in a growth curve. for him to lose from here, it's not about Haddad getting it right, it's about him making mistakes", he added. That raised expectations of swift, market-friendly reforms.

Brazilian stocks soared on Monday following the first round of presidential elections in the country. When economic adviser Paulo Guedes, a banker trained at the University of Chicago, recently floated bringing back a bank fee, Bolsonaro said Guedes had been quoted out of context and that there would be no new taxes. "Regardless of party, that provides hope", said Pablo Syper, head of trading at Mirae Asset Global Investments.

Mr. Haddad flew on Monday to the southern city of Curitiba to visit Mr. da Silva, the party's founder and still one of the country's most beloved figures, in jail. In the forthcoming run-off election, the north-east will doubtless vote for Haddad and the Worker's Party - the party of former president Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva, himself from the region. That clears out powerbrokers who could have extracted costly concessions to pass Bolsonaro's agenda. Saturday evening's polls had Jair Bolsonaro winning with between 40 and 41 percent of votes, with Fernando Haddad on 25 percent.

Experts predict political pyrotechnics between now and then as the two men lock horns on their dramatically different visions for Brazil.

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Haddad must now reverse current electoral momentum within just 21 days, or watch the wave that swept Bolsonaro to a first round victory carry the former army captain into office.

But a Haddad voter, Jose Dias, said it would be a "catastrophe" if Bolsonaro triumphed.

Allies recognised the uphill battle he faces.

"If God is willing, we'll settle this today", he told reporters.

"We've had enough of corruption".

"He needs to say, 'Yes, we were culprits in this massive corruption scandal; we deeply, deeply regret what happened to Brazil, but we need to move on, ' " she said.

Bolsonaro's running mate, a retired general, has said military intervention can be justified to restore civic order and that Brazil's Constitution can be torn up and rewritten without input from citizens.

Many voters, already disillusioned with their democracy, said they felt trapped by the choice between the two front-runners, a sentiment likely to deepen in the weeks to come.

Other reports by GizPress

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