Brazil on the cusp of sharp move right with Bolsonaro

Brazil votes amid anger at the ruling class

Brazil votes amid anger at the ruling class

Right-wing Congressman Jair Bolsonaro took a commanding lead in Brazil's presidential election on Sunday, but the race headed for a second round of voting between him and leftist former Sao Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad, according to exit polls and partial results.

Bolsonaro almost won the presidency in Sunday's first-round vote, taking 46 percent of votes against Haddad's 29 percent.

If the exit polls are confirmed, he will face Fernando Haddad from the left-wing Workers' Party in the second round on 28 October.

"Haddad can reach out and surpass Bolsonaro but he will have a hard time doing that, he will have to get nearly the totality of the vote of Ciro Gomes and bring in the blank voters as well as those who abstained", Thiago de Aragao, director at the Brasilia-based political consultancy Arko Advice, said. Bolsonaro has often praised Trump, and his campaign took many pages from the USA president's playbook, from bashing the mainstream media and political class to using the candidate's adult children as proxies. "We have to believe in our Brazil".

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.

He had appealed via social media for voters to hand him a first-round victory with a 50 per cent result.

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.

Front-runner Jair Bolsonaro, who some call a tropical Trump, has surged in opinion polls in the past week.

"I think Haddad needs a bit of a miracle, it could be very, very hard for him [to win the presidency]", Oliver Stuenkel, a professor of global relations at the Brazil-based Getulio Vargas Foundation higher education institute, said.

Haddad can only win in the second round if he converts sceptics, galvanises Sunday's vanquished centrist candidates and their supporters and goes after his opponent on policy issues such as crime and security which, until now, he has appeared unwilling to grapple with, analysts said.

At a news conference afterward, Haddad cast the second round as pitting Bolsonaro's "neoliberalism" against the social programs that the PT has promoted. Signs that Bolsonaro could win enough support in Congress to push through his agenda added to enthusiasm. "A miracle would be for Bolsonaro to see the light and govern the country for the people, for him to become less radical".

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

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.

A supporter of Jair Bolsonaro, presidential candidate with the Social Liberal Party, celebrates.

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