Far-right candidate will have to top poll in second-round run-off to secure presidency
The far-right Brazilian populist Jair Bolsonaro has secured a resounding victory in the first-round of his countrys presidential election, but fallen just short of the majority required to avoid a second-round runoff.
After a campaign as improbable and electrifying as any Brazilian telenovela although infinitely more consequential for the future of one of the worlds largest and most diverse democracies Bolsonaro secured 46.93% of votes – with 94% of all votes counted.
The second-placed candidate, the leftist Workers party Fernando Haddad, won 28% of the vote, according to Brazils superior electoral court, the TSE. Behind him came the Democratic Labor partys Ciro Gomes with 12.5%.
Those results mean Bolsonaro, who received more than 46M votes, and Haddad will face off for the presidency on 28 October in a second-round vote.
The next few weeks are just going to be crazy the country is just going to divide even more, predicted Monica de Bolle, the director of Latin American Studies at Johns Hopkins University.
Its going to be a horrible campaign in the second round. Its going to be one side smearing the other. Bolsonaro is going to be coming out with all the dirt on the PT [Workers party] and theres plenty of that. And the PT is going to be coming out with a lot of dirt on Bolsonaro and theres plenty of that too.
Jubilant Bolsonaro followers gathered outside his beach-side home in western Rio de Janeiro on Sunday evening to celebrate the result with fireworks and barbecue.
Many of those present wore T-shirts emblazoned with Bolsonaros image and the slogan melhor Jair acostumando! a play on the politicians name that roughly translates as: Youd Bolso get used to it!
Jair Bolsonaro is hope for the Brazilian people, said Jean Sartorial, a 33-year-old banker who had come to the party in a blue Brazil football jersey.
Bolsonaro is a legend, agreed Thiago Xavier, a 30-year-old estate agent.
There was frustration and defiance as it began to sink in that Bolsonaro would fall just short of a first-round victory.
Damn, 48%! said Washington Silva, 66, a retired air force colonel. The second round will be fiercer, Silva added. More aggression.
Brian Winter, the editor-in-chief of Americas Quarterly, said the colossal support for Bolsonaro in much of the country meant he was a huge favourite to beat Haddad.
The path for Haddad to close that gap looks almost impossible, he said. This idea that Bolsonaro can save the country and make it safe for people to walk on the streets at night and tend the corruption in Brasilia and make a dent in 13 million unemployed thats an idea most Brazilians now seem to have bought.
In a broadcast on the eve of the election, the 63-year-old candidate of the Social Liberal party echoed Donald Trump with a call to his 7 million Facebook followers: Lets make Brazil great! Lets be proud of our homeland once again!
Throughout his 27-year career as a congressman, Bolsonaro has been notorious for throwing vitriol at Brazils black, gay and indigenous communities, as well as his support for military rule.
Yes, Im in favor of a dictatorship! We will never resolve grave national problems with this irresponsible democracy, the politician, who has been described as a blend of Hugo Chvez and Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, told Congress in 1993.
In a 2015 interview, Bolsonaro defended Brazils 1964-85 dictatorship responsible for killing and disappearing hundreds of opponents as a benevolent but essential means of preventing the communisation of our country.
You had complete freedom to come and go and do whatever you wanted to do in our country [back then] It was an era of employment, security, respect, education, he claimed.
But in the final days of the campaign, the far-right front-runner, forced to campaign from a hospital bed, tried to recast himself as a paragon of tolerance who would rule for all Brazils 208 million citizens regardless of their skin-colour or faith.
We will govern for everyone even the atheists, he insisted in one pre-election broadcast. Lets change Brazil together.
Progressive Brazilians, sickened by the rise of a pro-torture politician whose supporters and close relatives have a penchant for wearing clothes emblazoned with images of assault rifles and handguns, are not convinced.
Casting her vote at a school in Rios Santa Teresa neighbourhood on Sunday, Soraya de Souza, a 56-year-old lawyer, said Brazil faced a stark choice: It is democracy or fascism.
The historian Helosa Starling said she was particularly perturbed by Bolsonaros authoritarian tendencies and his plans to relax gun laws: If he really does follow through on allowing the population to arm itself, this country will become a wild west.
Itll be even worse than that wretch in the United States, said Cico Bezerra da Sivla, a 56-year-old butcher from Garanhuns, the north-eastern town where Luiz Incio Lula da Silva president from 2003 to 2011 was born. He just wants to kill people. The only thing he likes is guns.