Bolsonaro's Lead Falls as Brazil Turns to Haddad

Jair Bolsonaro

"He's going to sweep out all the corrupt politicians, the crooks, the communists", said supporter Alvaro Cardoso, 55, at the polling station where Bolsonaro cast his ballot, wearing a black T-shirt with the candidate's name and a skull. He's now been announced as the president-elect.

Bolsonaro was leading in recent polls ahead of Fernando Haddad, a leftist former Sao Paulo mayor, with 56 per cent of voters likely to vote for Bolsonaro, while 44 per cent supported Haddad.

"Brazilians have elected a new president in free and fair elections".

Bolsonaro's win perpetuates electoral routs for right-wing presidents against leftist governments hostile to the United States, said Argentine commentator Pablo Seman - citing recent victories for Mauricio Macri in Argentina, Sebastian Pinera in Chile and Mario Abdo Benitez in Paraguay.

On Sunday, he voted at a military academy in Rio de Janeiro, ducking in through a side door to avoid the waiting crowd.

"We will change Brazil's destiny together", he said in his victory speech - broadcast live from his home on Facebook, the platform he has used to campaign since an attacker stabbed him in the stomach at a rally on September 6.

"All these people here are outraged, upset about corruption and crime, and we are with Bolsonaro". He has a history of disparaging remarks against LGBT people, women and minorities and has spoken of his support for torture and extrajudicial police killings.

But suggestions of "a coup, shutting down congress and summoning tanks" - all of which Bolsonaro advocated earlier in his career - are exaggerated, Jairo Nicolau, a political scientist at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, tells TIME.

Bolsonaro, who has earned the nickname the "Trump of the Tropics", takes office on January 1.

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"Brazil will not become a dictatorship, we won't see congress closed", said Mauricio Santoro, a political scientist and professor of global relations at Rio de Janeiro State University.

He pledged to govern "following the Bible and the constitution", and said: "We can not continue flirting with socialism, communism, populism and the extremism of the left". They are also anxious about the rights of minorities following homophobic, racist and misogynistic remarks Bolsonaro made during the campaign and before.

However, the extent to which the state controls their core activities is still a matter of debate between his top economic adviser, pro-privatisation Paulo Guedes, and the retired generals who backed his presidential bid.

Misogyny. As the BBC notes, "In one infamous incident in 2015 he told a fellow lawmaker she was too ugly to rape".

His victory moved Brazil, the world's fourth-largest democracy, sharply to the right, after four consecutive elections in which candidates from the left-leaning Workers' Party won. Many cried foul after former President Luiz Inácio da Silva, the longtime front-runner in the race, was ruled ineligible to run after he was imprisoned in April to start serving a 12-year sentence for corruption and money laundering.

Lula remains the country's most popular politician, despite being accused of masterminding the massive pilfering of state oil company Petrobras. Brazil has for years been one of the world's most risky countries for environmental defenders, and the Bolsonaro presidency could make their situation more dire. "The 63-year-old Bolsonaro is veteran congressman who admires those dictatorship years".

But in an anti-establishment climate, his message has sold better than Haddad's. Voting machines furnished by the Brazilian government were transported to Framingham to facilitate the election. He tweeted on Saturday that he would vote for Haddad.

In Sao Paulo, the economic capital, Marcos Kotait, 40, a publicist, said he had "never seen such a polarized election".

As a retired army captain, Bolsonaro spent much of his 27 years in Congress prioritising the military's interests, and he promises to continue doing so as president. The candidate himself was stabbed and nearly died while campaigning in early September, and there were numerous reports of politically motivated violence, especially directed at gay people.

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