Source: The Intercept
JAIR BOLSONARO WAS elected president of Brazil on Sunday evening. The far-right candidate received more than 55 percent of valid votes. His opponent, Fernando Haddad of the Workers’ Party, received less than 45 percent. In a country with compulsory voting, almost 29 percent of adults preferred to annul or not cast their ballot.
Across Brazil, city streets echoed with fireworks, shouts, and car horns as preliminary election results came in. Thousands of supporters, many dressed in green and yellow, assembled outside the president-elect’s beach-front residence in Rio de Janeiro. On São Paulo’s main street, Avenida Paulista, police used tear gas to separate Haddad and Bolsonaro voters.
Bolsonaro, who has taken aim at the media throughout his campaign, chose to make his first statement after the election via Facebook Live, rather than a press conference. “We could not continue to flirt with socialism, communism, populism, and the extremism of the left,” he said. The broadcast was picked up by major TV networks, but repeatedly froze due to connection issues. “All of the promises made to political groups and the people will be kept,” he added.
Soon after, he stepped outside, made a brief statement to the media, and asked a key supporter, Sen. Magno Malta, to lead the group in prayer. He then read a prepared statement and took questions from a representative of the press.
The Workers’ Party originally ran former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva as their candidate, and he was the clear favorite in the polls. However, they were forced to swap him out at the last minute for Haddad, a former mayor of São Paulo who had failed to win re-election in 2016, after Lula was sent to prison on a questionable corruption conviction, and it became clear that higher courts would not overturn the sentence. Hindered by a late start and the lack of a national profile, Haddad struggled to gain name recognition and failed to distance himself from public perceptions that linked his party to corruption and the status quo. Nonetheless, with the strong base of the Workers’ Party and the message, “Haddad is Lula,” the 55-year-old academic was able to scrape his way through the first round of elections on October 7, taking 29 percent of the vote in a 13-way contest.