Zerohedge reports that after one of the most bizarre presidential campaigns in Brazilian history (it at one point featured one candidate who was in prison and another who was hospitalized with a life-threatening stab wound), Jair Bolsonaro, the right-wing candidate who has embraced the label of “Brazil’s Donald Trump” has outperformed even the rosiest expectations.
The result of the elections…a landslide win in favor Social Liberal Party (PSL) candidate Jair Bolsonaro, who won an impressive 46.8 percent of the first round vote.
Bolsonaro will now face off against the Workers’ Party (PT) candidate, Fernando Haddad, on 28 October, who placed second with 29 percent of the vote.
According to Zerohedge Bolsonaro outperformed even the most optimistic polls and nearly won a first-round victory outright. But since Brazil’s constitution calls for a runoff vote if no candidate wins an outright majority, it’s expected that Bolsonaro, a former military officer and federal lawmaker, will face off against Worker’s Party candidate Fernando Haddad, former mayor of Sao Paulo and Lula’s proxy.
Brazil is now preparing up for the second round of elections as the last remaining candidates pursue competing policy platform, in an election widely considered to be one of the most high-stakes that Brazil has faced in years.
The elections in Latin America’s largest economy have exposed the deep divide within Brazil, as candidates lay out their political positions in an effort to win the electorate and succeed Michel Temer of the Democratic Movement Party (MDB).
Whoever wins the runoff vote will take office next January.
The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the impressive win for Jair Bolsonaro, and the impact his imminent presidential victory in late October will have on Brazil’s domestic stability, and its geopolitical position in Latin America, as well as within the BRICS nations.
After the results were known, Jair Bolsonaro spoke on Facebook Live, calling for unity heading into the second round. “Together we will reconstruct our Brazil,” he said.
He also questioned the outcome’s accuracy, suggesting voting irregularities: “I am certain that if this hadn’t happened, we would have known the name of the president of the republic tonight.”
Regarding his policy views, the right-wing candidate has said that he would cull back government ministries, such as by combining multiple ministries to form a bigger economics ministry, and pursue a stringent anti-corruption and anti-crime agenda.
Additionally, the candidate has also pledged to withdraw Brazil from the UN’s Paris Agreement on climate change, which experts warn would devastate the unique Amazon region, while also creating additional hurdles for international efforts to limit global temperature increases relative to pre-industrial levels. (For more on international climate action, see related story, this edition)
Bolsonaro has also indicated that he would roll back environmental protections and fines for violators. Furthermore, he has endorsed a privatisation-focused economic agenda, while reducing import tariffs and other trade barriers, granting greater latitude to the country’s central bank, and increasing the mining of oil and other reserves, according to a briefing prepared by the European Parliamentary Research Service. He has also been critical of UN institutions, and critics note that the details of his economic agenda are mostly unclear.
Bolsonaro is also known for his ultra-right and populist views, and has faced repeated criticisms of racism, homophobia, and sexism due to his comments and policy positions. He has also indicated that he does not intend to adopt a more neutral tone going forward and has often, and controversially, praised Brazil’s past history of military dictatorship that ended in the 1980s.
Fernando Haddad, who served as mayor of São Paulo from 2013-2017, is contesting Bolsonaro for the presidency on behalf of the Workers’ Party, having entered the race last month to replace imprisoned former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Lula was ruled ineligible to run due to a corruption conviction. Last month Haddad faced corruption charges of his own, though these do not prevent him from participating in the presidential contest.
Going forward, Haddad says he will seek the backing of voters who opted for the other candidates in the first round, though whether his former opponents would support him against Bolsonaro is not yet clear. “We want to unite the democrats of Brazil, a broad and deeply democratic project, but that untiringly pursues social justice,” he said on Sunday.
The two candidates have also expressed differing assessments of international and regional trading partnerships, particularly involving regional coalition Mercosur and major emerging economy partners in Asia.
For example, while Bolsonaro has called for reviewing existing regional trade partnerships and focusing on trade accords that he says would be of greater value to Brazil, he has also said that the South American economic giant should act to tamp down on the influence of regional customs union and trading bloc Mercosur. He has also criticised Venezuela’s membership in the group, though Venezuela is currently under suspension.
Bolsonaro has further called for restricting foreign investment in strategic sectors, such as energy and mining, and warned against being overly dependent on major trading partners such as China, while at the same time questioning some of Brazil’s current cooperation efforts with other developing countries.
Meanwhile, Haddad has praised the BRICS coalition of which Brazil is a part, which also includes Russia, India, China, and South Africa. Brazil is due to host the next summit of BRICS leaders in 2019, taking the helm from South Africa. Haddad has also pledged to deepen ties with fellow Mercosur members, according to comments reported by Xinhua.
“The first thing we have to consider is the BRICS countries, which are very important markets for Brazil, and we need to strengthen bilateral and multilateral agreements with those partners in order to create jobs,” he said.
On boosting ties with fellow Mercosur members Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay, Haddad indicated that he is already in contact with officials from some of those countries to that effect, particularly given the potential for supporting regional trade.
The election comes as Mercosur and the EU are in the process of trying to finalise a trade deal within the context of a wider Association Agreement, an effort that has been underway for the better part of two decades. While Haddad has expressed interest in a deeper relationship with Europe, Bolsonaro’s position on the subject is not immediately clear.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.