Jair Bolsonaro: an anti-establishment figure offering brusque solutions

Jair Bolsonaro: an anti-establishment figure offering brusque solutions

Far-right congressman Jair Bolsonaro just missed outright victory in Sunday's vote, and will face former Sao Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad of the leftist Workers' Party in an October 28 runoff.

Jana Tessarolo Clemente, a 46-year-old veterinarian from Sao Paulo said she voted for the former army captain "because we're against the Workers' Party more than for Bolsonaro". 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.

Haddad, a former education minister, had portrayed a vote for him as a show of support for Workers Party founder and former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, whom many voters associate with good economic times and falling inequality.

The 2018 election is seen as the most polarized vote in the country since the end of military rule in 1985.

Many voters also like his promises to tackle corruption and cut climbing public debt through privatizations, as well as the devout Catholic's family-first stance.

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He is riding a wave of anger at the establishment after the uncovering of one of the world's largest political graft schemes, opposition to a return to power by the leftist Workers Party (PT) blamed for much of that corruption, and fears about spiking crime in the country with more murders than any other.

Two polls published late on Saturday showed Bolsonaro had increased his lead over Haddad in the past two days, taking 36 percent of voter intentions compared with Haddad's 22%.

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With the field reduced to two candidates, some analysts see Haddad as the natural inheritor of numerous centrist votes that will be up for grabs, but the scale of Bolsonaro's first-round success means that Haddad will have little room for manoeuvre. In a broadside against Bolsonaro, who frequently talks about liberalizing gun laws, Haddad said: "We don't carry guns".

Meanwhile, true to the Workers' Party's leftist roots, Haddad has promised to fight long-standing inequalities, scrap a major labor reform passed previous year and invest more in education.

The result is a very split electorate.

Thirty parties won seats in the lower house, up from 25 represented there before the vote.

"I didn't like any of the candidates and I felt obliged to choose the lesser of two evils", said Frederico Vasconcellos, a 68-year-old retired metalworker.

In Rio de Janeiro, Clara Gentil turned out to vote in Copacabana, wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the message "Not him". With other candidates in the runoff election, the country would have had a real chance of calmer times.

"Brazilians were manipulated to vote out of hate. People will be hungry, with a currency that is worth nothing", she said, while leaving a polling station with her daughter. The political center first became lost in the struggle over the impeachment of former President Dilma Rousseff and then supported the government of the unpopular President Michel Temer.

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