HE’S ANGERED Feminists, The Left and The Guardian have branded him a ‘far-right extremist’ but the man dubbed ‘The Trump of The Tropics’ could be Brazil’s next populist leader after he WON the Presidential Election… sort off.
Former army captain Jair Bolsonaro has won Brazil’s presidential election over 46%, just falling short of getting enough votes to avoid a second-round runoff against a leftist rival.
Bolsonaro, 63 has won-over the Brazilian people despite all the odds and now he’s target number one on the radical leftist’s radar.
He had a last-minute surge which almost gave him an electoral stunner, and won 46% of the vote compared to 29% for his left-wing rival Fernando Haddad, according to figures from Brazil’s Superior Electoral Tribunal with 99.9% of the vote counted.
He needed over 50% support to win outright.
Polls predicted Mr Bolsonaro would come out in front on Sunday, but he far outperformed expectations, blazing past competitors with more financing, institutional backing of parties and free air time on television.
Ultimately, Mr Bolsonaro’s strong showing reflects a yearning for the past as much as a sign of the future, and Populism is now taking over South America.
TRUMP OF THE TROPICS: He’s said some OUTRAGEOUS things… here are some of his best one-liners.
“I had four sons, but then I had a moment of weakness, and the fifth was a girl.”
“I’m not going to rape you, because you’re very ugly” – to a female representative in Congress.
“I’d rather have my son die in a car accident than have him show up dating some guy.”
“They don’t do anything. I don’t think they’re even good for procreation any more” – referring to quilombolas, the black descendants of rebel African slaves.
“You can be sure that if I get there [the presidency], there’ll be no money for NGOs. If it’s up to me, every citizen will have a gun at home. Not one centimetre will be demarcated for indigenous reserves or quilombolas.”
“You won’t change anything in this country through voting – nothing, absolutely nothing. Unfortunately, you’ll only change things by having a civil war and doing the work the military regime didn’t do. Killing 30,000, starting with FHC [former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso]. Killing. If a few innocent people die, that’s alright.”
The candidate from the tiny Social and Liberal Party made savvy use of Twitter and Facebook to spread his message that only he could end the corruption, crime and economic malaise that has seized Brazil in recent years.
“I voted against thievery and corruption,” said Mariana Prado, a 54-year-old human resources expert. “I know that everyone promises to end these two things, but I feel Bolsonaro is the only one can help end my anxieties.”
The two candidates have painted starkly different visions of the country’s past and future.
Mr Bolsonaro has portrayed a nation in collapse and has advocated loosening gun ownership laws so individuals can fight off criminals, giving police a freer hand to use force and restoring “traditional” Brazilian values.
He capitalised on Brazilians’ deep anger with their traditional political class and “throw the bums out” rage after a massive corruption investigation revealed staggering levels of graft.
Beginning in 2014, prosecutors alleged that Brazil’s government was run like a cartel for years, with billions of dollars in public contracts handed out in exchange for kickbacks and bribes.
The Workers’ Party was at the centre of that investigation, and it has struggled to stage a comeback with Mr Haddad.
Mr Haddad has promised to roll back President Michel Temer’s economic reforms that he says eroded workers’ rights, increase investment in social programmes and bring back the boom years Brazil experienced under his mentor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Though they come from opposite sides of the political spectrum, both Mr Bolsonaro and Mr Haddad ran campaigns based on nostalgia for a better time.
Mr Bolsonaro frequently evoked the country’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship amid promises of a return to traditional values and safer, simpler times.
In one of his last appeals to voters before Sunday’s voting, Mr Bolsonaro tweeted that he would “defend the family and the innocence of children, treat criminals as such and not get involved in corruption schemes”.
Mr Bolsonaro’s poll numbers have increased by about 15% since he was stabbed on September 6.
He was unable to campaign or participate in debates as he underwent surgeries during a three-week hospital stay, but instead brought messages directly to voters via Facebook and Twitter.
The campaign to run Latin America’s largest economy, which is a major trade partner for countries in the region and a diplomatic heavyweight, has been unpredictable and tense.
Mr da Silva led initial polls by a wide margin, but was banned from running after a corruption conviction.
Mr Bolsonaro’s stabbing forced candidates, and Mr Bolsonaro himself, to shift strategies and recalibrate.
All along, Brazilians have said their faith in leaders and their hopes for the future are waning.
This election was once seen as the great hope for ending a turbulent era in which many politicians and business executives were jailed on corruption charges, a president was impeached and removed from office in controversial proceedings, and the region’s largest economy suffered a protracted recession.
Caught in the middle are Brazilians who dislike both candidates and see them as symbols of a broken system.
“I think we’re going to continue with the same polarisation,” if either Mr Haddad or Mr Bolsonaro wins, said Victor Aversa, a 27-year-old massage therapist who voted for centre-left candidate Ciro Gomes, who had been polling third.
“We’ve been on this path of crazy bipolarity. Haddad and Bolsonaro will both lead populist governments.”
PARTS OF THIS ARTICLE COURTESY OF THE PRESS ASSOCIATION