The Heat: Brazil Elections Pt1

Political analyst Fernando Meireles of Minas Gerais Federal University said momentum appeared to favor Bolsonaro.

Mr Bolsonaro's poll numbers have increased by about 15% since he was stabbed on September 6. He has also made sexist, racist and homophobic remarks.

With the far-right candidate Bolsonaro in first place and three weeks to go until the second round of elections, the Left faces an uphill task. To avoid a runoff, Bolsonaro would have needed to secure at least 50 percent of the vote.

All along, Brazilians have said their faith in leaders and their hopes for the future are waning.

Presidential frontrunner Jair Bolsonaro, of the Social Liberal Party, flashes victory hand signs to supporters after voting at a polling station in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018.

A Bolsonaro government would speed up the privatization of state companies to reduce Brazil's budget deficit and relax environmental controls for farming and mining. He also spoke with admiration and nostalgia for Brazil's military dictatorship, during which 434 people were killed or disappeared and thousands were tortured from 1964 to 1985. His running mate is a reactionary retired army general and he wants to appoint military officers as ministers.

This, however, is no ordinary election, and the three weeks to come are the equivalent of a lifetime in Brazilian politics. Last week, even after being released from the hospital, Bolsonaro skipped the most important televised debate on major network Globo, citing his doctors' orders. "Unfortunately it was the dictatorship".

"This is a victory for honest people, who want the best for Brazil", said Bianca Santos, 40-year-old psychologist, who added Bolsonaro would end high crime rates.

But he faces fierce resistance going forward from a big part of Brazil's 147-million-strong electorate put off by his record of denigrating comments against women, gays and the poor.

The candidate offered little in the way of a detailed policy road map, particularly regarding the country's floundering economy.

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"Anyone who lives in Brazil knows that life got worse under the Workers' Party, especially for the middle class", she said. "If this problem had not occurred, if you had confidence in the electronic system, we would already have the name of the new president".

He replaced popular former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in the race after Lula, imprisoned for corruption, was disqualified.

After da Silva was remanded to prison in April to start serving a 12-year sentence, he continued to run a campaign from his cell.

He's now favored over Fernando Haddad, a one-term São Paulo mayor who won 29%.

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.

While Bolsonaro was expected to come out in front Sunday, he far outperformed predictions, blazing past competitors who had more financing, the institutional backing of traditional parties and much more free air time on television. "I don't care about this corruption talk". "I'm not richer than him", he told TIME.

Others have lost faith in the Workers' Party and feel the current race leaves them with no good options.

Traditionally, the victor of the first round in Brazilian elections goes on to win the second round. Voter rejection of the two leading candidates is bigger than their polled support.

"I am an innocent", he said.

In the runoff scenario only Ciro Gomes would manage to defeat Bolsonaro, by 47% to 43%, with 8% blank and annulled votes and 2% not replying.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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