Brazil: Far-Right Candidate Outperforms Expectations

Brazil’s presidential election will be decided in a run-off between leftist Fernando Haddad and the right-winger Jair Bolsonaro, Reuters reports.

Exceeding all expectations, Bolsonaro obtained 46.7 percent of the votes in Sunday’s first-round vote. Haddad, however, got only 28.37 percent.

Bolsonaro, according to Haaretz, is known to speak fondly and nostalgically of Brazil’s military dictatorship, and during the campaign, he has portrayed Brazil as a country overrun by drug traffickers, riffed with violence, and on the verge of collapsing. Bolsonaro’s alarmist rhetoric seems to have paid off, since his surprising success is contradicting polls conducted ahead of the election.

During the campaign trail, Bolsonaro has promised law and order, and vowed to loosen gun ownership laws. He has also suggested that Brazil should go back to its traditional values. His campaign, however, has been marked by disparaging comments about women, blacks, and homosexuals.

A far-right populist, Bolsonaro capitalized on Brazilians’ deep anger, Haaretz notes, but his opponent, Fernando Haddad, is also a populist. This, according to some Brazilians, is reason for concern in and of itself.

“I think we’re going to continue with the same polarization. We’ve been on this path of crazy bipolarity. Haddad and Bolsonaro will both lead populist governments,” a citizen told Haaretz.

Glenn Greenwald, a Pulitzer-prize winning American journalist who resides in Brazil, explained today on Twitter that “early signs are looking extremely strong for Bolsonaro, to the point where a victory tonight — with no runoff needed — is looking increasingly possible.”

“I don’t mean to suggest he’s going to win tonight or that it’s above a 50% chance — only that most early signs are quite good for him,” Greenwald concluded.

According to BBC, Bolsonaro is also known to quote the Bible, and enjoys the support of many of Brazilian Catholics and evangelical Christians. There have been mass demonstrations against the far-right presidential candidate, with protesters expressing concern over his attitudes toward women and minority groups.

The candidate is known to stir controversy with sexist, racist, homophobic, and misogynistic comments, according to BBC. Bolsonaro also wants to restore the death penalty, and has spoken of torture as a legitimate practice on multiple occasions.

But the far-right Brazilian presidential candidate is not just another conservative populist, according to Foreign Policy, since he is taking pages straight from Goebbels’ playbook.

Known as the Brazilian Trump, Bolsonaro is currently being advised by President Donald Trump’s former White House Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon.

Bannon has managed to spread Trump-style populist politics across Europe, according to the Independent, and is now turning to South America.

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