Brazil election: Jair Bolsonaro leads in exit polls

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

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

Brazilian presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro of the Social Liberal Party won a huge part of the vote in the first round of the election and almost avoided a runoff.

Bolsonaro, a former army captain who has repeatedly expressed sexist, homophobic and racist opinions while supporting military dictatorship and torture, fell short of an outright victory by 4 percent in the first round of the elections and will face Haddad in an October 28 run-off.

Jair Bolsonaro, whose last-minute surge nearly gave him an electoral stunner, had 46pc compared to 29pc for former Sao Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad, according to figures from Brazil's Superior Electoral Tribunal with 99.9pc of the vote counted. And like the US president, Jair Bolsonaro's candidacy wasn't taken seriously by everyone at first.

Brazilian right-wing presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro gestures after being stabbed in the stomach during a campaign rally in Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais State, in southern Brazil, on 6 September, 2018. "We need to unify Brazil, to pacify it", he said. Bolsonaro has said he would rather have a dead son than a gay one and told a fellow lawmaker in Congress that she was "too ugly" to be raped. His grassroots social media campaign electrified the PSL, pushed it further to the right and raised the profile of candidates such as Olimpio Gomes, a former military police major, the most-voted candidate for the Senate in São Paulo Sunday. His nearest competitor drew just 28.5 percent of the vote.

Indicators from Sunday's results, aside from the 49 million votes Bolsonaro picked up, suggest that is the case and that prevailing public sentiment points towards him succeeding in the second round. "Our country needs someone to take tough measures", said civil servant Orlando Senna, 33, who said his uncle served in the army with Bolsonaro.

That made Bolsonaro the odds-on favorite in a runoff election later this month that could hurl Brazil into new political territory.

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In the most polarized election since the end of military rule in 1985, Bolsonaro is backed by a group of retired officers like Mourão who have criticized Workers Party governments and publicly advocate military intervention if corruption continues.

The center-left, in turn, collapsed with the candidacy of Lula, Brazil's most beloved and simultaneously most despised politician.

Bolsonaro, whose campaign was called "Brazil above all, God above everyone", has pushed a nostalgic narrative that he can bring back better times.

Haddad has also spent much time arguing that da Silva, his mentor, was unfairly jailed - a strategy aimed at attracting voters who still feel strong affection for da Silva, known in Brazil simply as Lula.

Supporters of presidential frontrunner Jair Bolsonaro of the Social Liberal Party, celebrate as they wait for the first results of the vote counting.

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. Bolsonaro has been endorsed by the fifth-place finisher, potentially handing him nearly half the votes he needs for a win.

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