Far-right lawmaker Jair Bolsonaro won Brazil’s presidential election on Sunday, riding a wave of frustration over corruption and crime that brought a dramatic swing to the right in the world’s fourth-largest democracy.
With 94 percent of ballots counted, Bolsonaro had 56 percent of the votes in the run-off election against left-wing hopeful Fernando Haddad of the Workers Party (PT), who had 44 percent, according to the electoral authority TSE.
“We cannot continue flirting with communism … We are going to change the destiny of Brazil,” Bolsonaro said in an acceptance address in which he vowed to carry out his campaign promises to stamp out corruption after years of leftist rule.
The former army captain’s rise has been propelled by rejection of the leftist PT that ran Brazil for 13 of the last 15 years and was ousted two years ago in the midst of a deep recession and political graft scandal.
Thousands of Bolsonaro supporters cheered and set off fireworks outside his home in Rio de Janeiro’s Barra de Tijuca beachfront neighborhood as his victory was announced. In Brazil’s commercial capital of Sao Paulo, Bolsonaro’s win was greeted with fireworks and the honking of car horns.
“Brazil is partying. Brazil’s good people are celebrating,” said Carmen Flores, local president of Bolsonaro’s PSL party.
The vote had been calm and orderly across the country, said Laura Chinchilla, the former president of Costa Rica who is head of the Organization of American States’ Electoral Observation Mission. Brazil has suffered a spate of partisan violence during the polarized campaign.
Many Brazilians are concerned that Bolsonaro, an admirer of Brazil’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship and a defender of its use of torture on leftist opponents, will trample on human rights, curtail civil liberties and muzzle freedom of speech.
The 63-year-old seven-term congressman has vowed to crack down on crime in Brazil’s cities and farm belt by granting police more autonomy to shoot at criminals. He also wants to let more Brazilians buy weapons to fight crime.
Antonio Henrique, a 52-year-old bank employee in Rio de Janeiro, said Sunday that he’s voted for the Workers’ Party in every election since the 1980s, but crime, revelations of corruption and economic recession have him voting this time for Bolsonaro instead.
“Security is a serious problem,” he said. “We can’t even leave home.”
Support for Bolsonaro dipped in recent polls but he has kept a commanding lead in surveys by MDA and Datafolha released on the eve of Sunday’s runoff. He had 55 percent of support, against 45 percent for Haddad, according to Datafolha.
As Bolsonaro voted in Rio de Janeiro early Sunday, the former Army captain said his expectations were high: “What I’ve seen in the streets during the past few months: victory.”
Haddad touted his recent rise in the polls after casting his ballot in Sao Paulo, saying that “Brazil woke up” in the past few days.
Investors have ignored Bolsonaro’s authoritarian streak and bet he’ll deliver on his pro-market stance: Brazilian assets have surged with his rise. On Friday, the benchmark Ibovespa index defied a slump in global assets to rise as much as 1.2 percent. The real was up as much as 1 percent, leading gains in major currencies.
Haddad, by contrast, alarms money managers who fear a return to the statist, free-spending policies of the Workers’ Party. In the past few days, he has promised voters subsidized cooking gas and a 20 percent increase in some government benefits.
Bolsonaro’s commitment to liberalize the economy is both recent and decidedly vague — as well as dependent on both congress and his politically inexperienced future finance minister, Paulo Guedes.
“So far, Bolsonaro hasn’t said much about what he wants,” said Andre Perfeito, an economist at Spinelli, a brokerage. “He hasn’t given any details of what he wants to privatize or what kind of pension reform he wants to do. The market has put words in his mouth.”
Brazil’s hard leftists took a cue from America’s Democrat’s penchant for violence and wishing death upon conservatives who oppose their tyrannical rule recently in the campaign for the presidency.
Brazil’s far-right presidential candidate survived life-saving surgery after being stabbed by a ‘socialist’ attacker who said he was acting on ‘a mission from God’ during a rally, and rose to the presidency.
Shocking footage showed the moment election hopeful Jair Bolsonaro was knifed in the stomach in the midst of a crowd in Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais, south east Brazil.
The 63-year-old has since been transferred to intensive care after undergoing a procedure for serious internal injuries and is now stable and out of ‘acute and immediate danger’.
A 40-year-old suspect, identified by police as Adélio Bispo de Oliveira, has been arrested over the attack with police saying he appeared to be mentally disturbed and had claimed he was ‘on a mission from God’.
Oliveira was said to be a member of the left-leaning PSOL party from 2007 to 2014. On his Facebook page, the attacker recently posted messages criticizing Bolsonaro and supporting the socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.
The split-second assault happened as the politcian was being carried shoulder high by supporters in the midst of a crowd during the afternoon event.
James E Windsor, Overpasses News Desk
October 29th, 2018