Brazilians vote in tense presidential race led by right-winger

Brazilians vote in tense presidential race led by right-winger

Right-wing Brazilian Congressman Jair Bolsonaro is headed toward a second-round runoff against leftist former Sao Paulo mayor Fernando Haddad on October 28, according to exit polls and early results that indicate no candidate winning a majority in Sunday's presidential election.

That means he will have to duke it out on October 28 with left-wing candidate Fernando Haddad, who came in second at 29 percent. In his victory speech, Bolsonaro, the candidate of Social Liberal Party, told citizens to take the "path of prosperity, liberty, family on God's side". Second-place Fernando Haddad finished on 28 percent.

Had he pocketed more than 50 percent, he would automatically have become the president-elect. Bolsonaro has promised a harder line on Venezuela, which millions have fled in recent years.

"We expected to win in the first round", 77-year-old retiree Lourdes Azevedo said in Rio de Janeiro.

His grassroots social media campaign electrified the PSL, pushed it further to the right and raised the profile of candidates such as Olimpio Gomes, a former military police major, the most-voted candidate for the Senate in São Paulo Sunday.

Bolsonaro's popularity has surged as Brazilians, exasperated with a political system that orchestrated what prosecutors call the world's largest political graft schemes, see him as the best hope to destroy corruption-riddled traditional politics.

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.

His appeal to voters for a return to "traditional values", his embrace of social media messaging as a way to communicate directly with the public, and his brash style have led to some Brazilian media dubbing him the "Trump of the Tropics".

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"I think we need a miracle", she said.

"Even if Haddad wins, it is clear that he would have to take steps towards the center to do so".

"A Haddad voter, Jose Dias, said it would be a "catastrophe" if Bolsonaro won the right to succeed unpopular outgoing centre-right President Michel Temer".

At a news conference afterward, Haddad cast the second round as pitting Bolsonaro's "neoliberalism" against the social programs that the PT has promoted.

"He will also have to try to attack Bolsonaro on issues that actually affect the mindset of the voter".

Prior to Sunday's first-round vote, about 41 percent of Brazil's electorate said they wouldn't vote for Haddad under any circumstances, according to Datafolha polling institute.

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.

The former Army captain, dubbed "Tropical Trump" because of his nationalist agenda and anti-establishment tirades, won almost half the votes thanks to a surge in support sparked by growing anger at corruption and antipathy towards scandal-plagued traditional parties in Latin America's largest nation.

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