Ahead of Brazil’s elections last Sunday, the far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro was widely expected to finish first in a crowded field.
Voting was progressing without major incident as of early afternoon.
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. Theoretically, he would need an extra four million votes to push him over the line.
Precedent is not on his side, either.
Haddad took Bolsonaro to task for skipping the last presidential debate on Thursday, which other candidates said was a sign he was unprepared to govern.
The two candidates have painted starkly different visions of the country’s past and future. The two overseas cities with most Brazilian registered voters are Boston, 35.000 and Miami, 34.000.
The PT’s main self-declared “left” opposition, the pseudo-left Morenoite-Pabloite alliance, the Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL), won just 0.6 percent of the vote, down from 1.6 percent in 2014 and a far cry from its first election in 2006, in which it won 7 percent of the vote based on its criticism of the PT’s neoliberal policies.
The outcome sets the stage for a bitter fight between men with radically different visions for Brazil, the world’s fourth-largest democracy, where leftists have won the presidency in every election since 2002.
When the army was responsible for opening up roads in the Amazon during the 1964-1985 military regime, trees could be felled without permission, but today to cut down one tree “a handful of people will come and bother you”, he told the paper.
Ciro Gomes, another centre-left candidate, came in third place on Sunday with about 12.5 percent of the vote. Winning over this part of the electorate is the absolute minimum the Fernando Haddad campaign must do. Brazil needs a real force to counter violence. But she says she would have pressed the button for “Bolsonaro with pain in my heart” since she is so disillusioned with the Workers’ Party.
The election was thrown into further disarray a few days later when front-runner Lula – who was jailed on corruption charges in July – was forced to withdraw from the presidential bid after an electoral commission ruled he could not stand for office.
Haddad, 55, who comes across as an earnest intellectual and lacks da Silva’s fiery charisma, was unknown in much of the country and failed to galvanize core Workers’ Party voters who had identified with da Silva’s working-class roots and life story.
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In terms of branding, the campaign is already taking steps to take the focus away from the party and on to the candidate. The move, while popular with the core supporters of the Workers’ Party, was criticised by those who think the candidate should distance himself from his jailed mentor.
Jair Bolsonaro likes to court controversy.
Mr Bolsonaro’s poll numbers have increased by about 15% since he was stabbed on September 6. “He is a moderate, but the big question is whether the party allows him to project that moderate image”, Prof.
In fact, there is plenty to challenge. Sound familiar? Trump trod a very similar path. “Bolsonaro is essentially saying, ‘Fairness means that I win”.
Haddad, though, has his own burden.
Many fear what Brazil will look like if he wins. “Unfortunately that’s literally the only nice thing that I can possibly find to say about him because he is a awful human being”.