December 10, 2018

Brazil’s far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro works on a coalition

09 October 2018, 11:30 | Darnell Patrick

Modal Trigger Jair Bolsonaro Getty Images

Jair Bolsonaro

Better-off Brazilians have rallied to Bolsonaro's pledge to crush crime that includes more than 62,000 murders each year, almost as many rapes and frequent robberies. Some recent polls have projected he could beat Bolsonaro in the second round.

Bolsonaro won in four of the five regions of Brazil, only losing to Haddad in the northeast, a PT stronghold.

"I think Bolsonaro will carry on doing what he's doing".

Bolsonaro, who has served for decades as a lower house lawmaker, has pledged to crack down on crime and corruption, seizing on voter anger with the establishment after a series of graft scandals he blamed on Haddad's Workers Party.

Bolsonaro is leading the polls in the first round of the presidential election, with 47 percent of the vote and 92.5 percent of the votes counted. Mr. Bolsonaro used the rest of the interview to reiterate his disdain for gay rights, dismiss the suggestion that he was a misogynist (he once called a congressional colleague "too ugly to rape") and pledge to demolish his adversary in the October 28 runoff vote, Workers' Party candidate Fernando Haddad.

Mr. Haddad flew on Monday to the southern city of Curitiba to visit Mr. da Silva, the party's founder and still one of the country's most beloved figures, in jail.

Haddad, though, has his own challenge. "He better be, because just us isn't enough", joked Gilberto Carvalho, a former PT minister and senior party member. "Our country is wealthy, it can't fall into the wrong hands", she said.

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The far-right frontrunner to become Brazil's next president has insisted he will not moderate his unflinchingly combative rhetoric or become a "peace and love" candidate as he continues his push to become leader of Latin America's largest democracy. "They don't know what it was like under the dictatorship", he said.

Meanwhile, a poster that said that voting for Bolsonaro would put north-easterners "in their place", also circulated online, with some suspecting it was an intentional campaign to arouse the north-east's anti-Bolsonaro sentiments.

The former Army captain will now face leftist opponent Fernando Haddad in the second round of the presidential election, with Bolsonaro enjoying a surge in support. He has advocated loosening gun ownership laws so individuals can fight off criminals, encouraging police to shoot more crooks and restoring "traditional" Brazilian values - though some take issue with his definition of those values in light of his approving allusions to the country's 1964-1985 dictatorship and his derisive comments about women, blacks and gay people. Whoever ultimately wins the presidency in the world's eighth largest economy will grapple with a large bloc of ideological hostility.

He has been compared to Trump, to Duterte, to Goebbels, even.

The rivals will have to move to the center now to win more votes in the runoff, said Maurício Santoro, professor at Rio de Janeiro state university.

The outgoing center-right president, Michel Temer - who took over after Lula's chosen successor Dilma Rousseff was impeached and ousted in 2016 for financial wrongdoing - was not standing for re-election.

"We have flirted too much with the left over the past 20 years".

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