Tuesday, May 21, 2019 | ePaper
Jair Bolsonaro wins Brazil vote but not outright victory
The Guardian :
Jair Bolsonaro presidential candidate of the Social Liberal party (PSL) in the Brazilain elections, gestures after casting his vote in Rio de Janeiro.
The far-right Brazilian populist Jair Bolsonaro has secured a resounding victory in the first-round of his country's presidential election, but fallen just short of the majority required to avoid a second-round runoff.
After a campaign as improbable and electrifying as any Brazilian telenovela - although infinitely more consequential for the future of one of the world's largest and most diverse democracies - Bolsonaro secured 46.93% of votes - with 94% of all votes counted.
The second-placed candidate, the leftist Workers' party Fernando Haddad, won 28% of the vote, according to Brazil's superior electoral court, the TSE. Behind him came the Democratic Labor party's Ciro Gomes with 12.5%.
Those results mean Bolsonaro, who received more than 46M votes, and Haddad will face off for the presidency on 28 October in a second-round vote.
"The next few weeks are just going to be crazy â€¦ the country is just going to divide even more," predicted Monica de Bolle, the director of Latin American Studies at Johns Hopkins University.
"It's going to be a horrible campaign in the second round. It's going to be one side smearing the other. Bolsonaro is going to be coming out with all the dirt on the PT [Workers' party] - and there's plenty of that. And the PT is going to be coming out with a lot of dirt on Bolsonaro - and there's plenty of that too."
Jubilant Bolsonaro followers gathered outside his beach-side home in western Rio de Janeiro on Sunday evening to celebrate the result with fireworks and barbecue.
Many of those present wore T-shirts emblazoned with Bolsonaro's image and the slogan "Ã‰ melhor Jair acostumando!" - a play on the politician's name that roughly translates as: "You'd Bolso get used to it!"
"Jair Bolsonaro is hope for the Brazilian people," said Jean Sartorial, a 33-year-old banker who had come to the party in a blue Brazil football jersey.
"Bolsonaro is a legend," agreed Thiago Xavier, a 30-year-old estate agent.
There was frustration and defiance as it began to sink in that Bolsonaro would fall just short of a first-round victory.
"Damn, 48%!" said Washington Silva, 66, a retired air force colonel. "The second round will be fiercer," Silva added. "More aggression."
Brian Winter, the editor-in-chief of Americas Quarterly, said the colossal support for Bolsonaro in much of the country meant he was a huge favourite to beat Haddad.
"The path for Haddad to close that gap looks almost impossible," he said. "This idea that Bolsonaro can save the country and make it safe for people to walk on the streets at night and tend the corruption in Brasilia and make a dent in 13 million unemployed - that's an idea most Brazilians now seem to have bought."
In a broadcast on the eve of the election, the 63-year-old candidate of the Social Liberal party echoed Donald Trump with a call to his 7 million Facebook followers: "Let's make Brazil great! Let's be proud of our homeland once again!"
Throughout his 27-year career as a congressman, Bolsonaro has been notorious for throwing vitriol at Brazil's black, gay and indigenous communities, as well as his support for military rule.
"Yes, I'm in favor of a dictatorship! We will never resolve grave national problems with this irresponsible democracy," the politician, who has been described as a blend of Hugo ChÃ¡vez and Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, told Congress in 1993.
In a 2015 interview, Bolsonaro defended Brazil's 1964-85 dictatorship - responsible for killing and disappearing hundreds of opponents - as a benevolent but essential means of preventing "the 'communisation' of our country."
"You had complete freedom to come and go and do whatever you wanted to do in our country [back then] â€¦ It was an era of employment, security, respect, education," he claimed.
Last month, Bolsonaro called for his leftwing political opponents to be shot; two days later he himself was stabbed in an attempted assassination at a rally.