Bolsonaro Election Effect Turns Brazil's Congress on Its Head

Brazil’s right-wing Bolsonaro narrowly misses first round win in presidential election

Jair Bolsonaro, the far-right presidential candidate who won 46 per cent of the vote in the first round of Brazil's election on October 7, doubled down on his hardline positions on Monday, a sign that the next three weeks of campaigning will likely be a bitter fight that will deepen the sharp polarization in Latin America's largest country.

Mr Bolsonaro obtained 46.7 percent of the votes in Sunday's first-round vote, while Mr Haddad, the stand-in for jailed ex-President Luiz Inacio da Silva, got 28.37 percent, the president of the country's top electoral court said on Sunday.

Haddad, the candidate for the Workers' Party (PT), who was selected to replace Lula Da Silva on the ballots in September after a court barred the convicted former leader from running, received 29 percent of the vote. "We need to unify Brazil, to pacify it", he said.

"What comes out from this election is a Congress more favorable to pass Bolsonaro's reforms", said Juliano Griebeler, political analyst at Barral M Jorge, a business consultancy.

Exit polling on the presidential race will be released at 7 p.m. local time (2200 GMT), when voting stations in far western states close.

Traditionally, most of Brazil's centrist parties rally behind the president.

The second-round run-off to decide on Brazil's news president takes place on Sunday October 28.

Brian Winter, the editor-in-chief of Americas Quarterly magazine, said the results underscored "the total disappearance of the Brazilian centre" and that Bolsonaro seemed nearly certain to glide to victory. "Our country needs someone to take tough measures", said civil servant Orlando Senna, 33, who said his uncle served in the army with Bolsonaro.

He was unable to campaign in person or participate in debates as he underwent surgeries during a three-week hospital stay - instead he used social media to communicate with the electorate.

The two men do share some similarities, including their disdain for political correctness and lack of a filter.

In the most polarized election since the end of military rule in 1985, Bolsonaro is backed by a group of retired generals who have criticized the Workers Party governments and publicly advocate military intervention if corruption continues. But she decided otherwise because, she said, she knew Bolsonaro would win anyway - and she thought he was the only candidate strong enough to prevent a return of the left.

"Bolsonaro is accelerating the rupture of Brazilians into two antagonistic camps", said Robert Muggah, director of the Igarapé Institute, a Rio de Janeiro-based think tank that specializes in security issues.

Haddad called on Brazilians to unite behind him, warning that the 1988 Constitution that underpinned Brazil's young democracy was under threat.

"I can't turn into a Little "Peace and Love" Jair, which would be betraying who I am", Bolsonaro said in a radio interview.

Haddad may yet gain the backing of other candidates in the race, but that might just feed Bolsonaro's criticism that traditional politicians are only interested in protecting their own.

His promise of a brutal crackdown on graft and crime have resonated with voters in the world's fifth most populous country, which registered a record 63,880 violent deaths in 2017.

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