News ID: 232457
Published: 0350 GMT October 08, 2018

Divided Brazil barrels toward uncertain presidential runoff

Divided Brazil barrels toward uncertain presidential runoff
MAURO PIMENTEL/AFP
Brazil's far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro

A deeply polarized Brazil stood at a political crossroads Monday as the bruising first round of the presidential election left voters with a stark choice in the run-off between far-right firebrand Jair Bolsonaro and leftist Fernando Haddad.

Bolsonaro, an ultraconservative former paratrooper, easily beat a dozen other candidates on Sunday – but not by enough to avoid an October 28 showdown with Haddad, the former mayor of Sao Paulo, AFP reported.

Bolsonaro won 46 percent of the vote to Haddad’s 29 percent, according to official results.

That tracked closely with pollster’s predictions, but Bolsonaro charged that "polling problems" had cheated him of outright victory in the first round, which required him to pass the 50 percent threshold.

Some of his supporters protested outside the national electoral tribunal in the capital Brasilia, chanting "Fraud!"

That anger reflected the uncertain outlook for the second round.

Surveys suggest Bolsonaro will have the edge, but that Haddad will draw nearly even with him after picking up substantial support from the defeated candidates.

Haddad, addressing his own supporters, called the looming run-off “a golden opportunity,” and challenged Bolsonaro to a debate.

He replaced popular former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in the race after Lula, imprisoned for corruption, was disqualified.

Despite his complaints, Bolsonaro did not formally contest Sunday's result, saying his voters "remain mobilized" for the second round.

But he faces fierce resistance going forward from a big part of Brazil’s 147-million-strong electorate put off by his record of denigrating comments against women and the poor.

His unabashed nostalgia for the brutal military dictatorship that ruled Brazil between 1964 and 1985 has also sent a chill through many voters.

As the Workers’ Party candidate, he faces the palpable disappointment and anger of voters who blame the party for Brazil’s worst-ever recession, and for a long string of graft scandals.

Sunday's general election – in which new federal and state legislatures were also chosen – exposed the deep divisions generated by both candidates.

Some voters – particularly women – carried “Not Him” placards to polling stations in opposition to Bolsonaro.

But his supporters, like 53-year-old lawyer Roseli Milhomem in Brasilia, said they backed the veteran lawmaker because “Brazil wants change.”

 

   
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