Brazil turns right, elects Jair Bolsonaro president

Former army officer Jair Bolsonaro secured a victory in the Brazilian presidential run-off election Sunday, an occasion which marks the return of conservative governance for the first time since João Figueiredo’s military dictatorship ended rule in 1985.

As polls closed Sunday, Bolsonaro claimed 55.7 percent of the vote, eclipsing Workers’ Party (PT) rival Fernando Haddad by approximately 11 percentage points.

After being declared the winner in the race and accepting a congratulatory phone call from President Trump, Bolsonaro addressed supporters from his home:

“We cannot continue flirting with communism.  We are going to change the destiny of Brazil.”

He followed his remark with a pledge the defend the Brazilian constitution, democracy, and freedom, adding: “This is not the promise of a party, nor the word of a man. It is an oath before God.”

Tapping into voters’ anger over crime and corruption, Bolsonaro’s victory is considered a referendum on four terms of PT leadership over the country, a period in which public scandals were rampant and the country experienced one of the worst recessions in modern Brazilian history.

A member of the small Social Liberal Party, Bolsonaro ran on an anti-corruption platform, promising to crack down on government graft, restore law and order, and offering strong support for free-market economics.

Bolsonaro also campaigned on a platform of reforming the country’s troubled public pension system and a vow to privatize state-owned industry.

Although Bolsonaro had surged in popularity in opinion polls, a left-wing opponent stabbed him at a Sept. 6 rally in Juiz de Fora, forcing him off the campaign trail. He returned after a one-month hospital stay to win the first round of elections Oct. 7.

First elected to the National Congress of Brazil in 1990, Bolsonaro served seven terms, often focusing on military issues.  As he drew interest as a national political figure, he become more outspoken over issues such as corruption, crime, public safety and migration.

Often referred to as the “Trump of the Tropics,” Bolsonaro courted controversy on the campaign trail and was know to make provocative remarks on abortion, rape, homosexuality and political correctness.

As leader of the world’s fourth-largest democracy, Bolsonaro now faces a country wracked with crime, high unemployment, inflation and an influx of migrants.


[BBC] [The Guardian] [Deutsche Welle] [Photo courtesy AP/Silvia Izquierdo via Daily Mail]