Bol­sonaro se­duces Brazil

The Guardian Weekly - - Inside - By Tom Phillips and Dom Phillips

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 – the far-right Brazil­ian pop­ulist Jair Bol­sonaro se­cured a re­sound­ing vic­tory in the first-round of his coun­try’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion last Sun­day.

Af­ter 94% of votes had been counted, Bol­sonaro had se­cured 46.93% of votes, which left him just short of the ma­jor­ity re­quired to avoid a sec­ond-round runoff.

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 Labour 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 sec­on­dround vote.

Ju­bi­lant Bol­sonaro fol­low­ers gath­ered out­side his home in western Rio de Janeiro last Sun­day evening to cel­e­brate the re­sult.

“Jair Bol­sonaro is hope for the

Brazil­ian peo­ple,” said Jean Sar­to­rial, a 33-year-old banker.

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. “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,” he said.

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.

Last month, Bol­sonaro called for his left­wing po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents to be shot; two days later he him­self was stabbed at a rally in an at­tempted as­sas­si­na­tion. But in the days be­fore the vote when he was forced to cam­paign from a hos­pi­tal bed, Bol­sonaro tried to re­cast him­self as a paragon of tol­er­ance who would rule for all Brazil’s 208 mil­lion cit­i­zens.

Pro­gres­sive Brazil­ians, sick­ened by the rise of a pro-tor­ture politi­cian whose sup­port­ers have a pen­chant for wear­ing clothes em­bla­zoned with im­ages of as­sault ri­fles and hand­guns, are not con­vinced.

Cast­ing her vote at a school, So­raya de Souza, a 56-year-old lawyer, said Brazil faced a stark choice: “It is democ­racy or fas­cism.”

PI­LAR OLIVARES/ REUTERS

Front run­ner Jair Bol­sonaro fell short of an over­all ma­jor­ity but is favourite to to pre­vail in a sec­ond-round run-off

DANIEL RAMALHO/GETTY

Sup­port­ers of Fernando Had­dad cel­e­brate a rare tri­umph for their can­di­date in Rio de Janeiro

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