Friday, 16 November, 2018

Far-right candidate wins Brazil poll

Jair Bolsonaro Jair Bolsonaro
Glenn Montgomery | 31 October, 2018, 10:29

That juxtaposition underscored the reality that the end of the election was not the end of acrimony and that myriad challenges lay ahead for Latin America's largest nation.

The 63-year-old Bolsonario, who was stabbed in the abdomen during a campaign event and spent more than three weeks in the hospital during the final stretch of the first-round race, will take office on January 1, succeeding Michel Temer. The candidate himself was stabbed and nearly died while campaigning in early-September, and there were numerous reports of politically motivated violence, especially directed at gay people. He opened his term with a pledge to unite Brazil after a divisive and often violent contest saying that the country belongs to "all Brazillians by birth or heart".

On Sunday, the far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, of the Social Liberal Party, was proclaimed the victor of the second round of the presidential elections in Brazil with 55.34 percent of the total votes.

"Had a very good conversation with the newly elected President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, who won his race by a substantial margin".

But many warned that his policies on crime, his expected reliance on military officers as advisers and his frequent disparaging of blacks, minority groups such as gays and Brazil's institutions could undermine the country's young democracy.

Haddad, a former Sao Paulo mayor, said Sunday night he would fight to "defend the freedoms of those 45 million people" who voted for him, after Bolsonaro vowed late in the campaign to "cleanse" Brazil of leftist "reds".

Haddad acknowledged the victory of his rival but reiterated the responsibility of creating an opposition that continues with the struggle for the people and democracy in Brazil. "Brazil has possibly never needed the exercise of citizenship more than right now".

Amid the celebrations by Bolsonaro's supporters, there were also reports of some clashes between his backers and opponents.

Brazil's politics have tended for a fair time to favour the left. While running for Brazil's presidency Bolsonaro cast himself as a political outsider despite a 27-year career in congress.

Many are furious with the Workers' Party for its role in a graft scheme involving billions of dollars in bribes paid to politicians via inflated construction contracts. Luiz Inacio de Silva, former Workers Party President is now serving a 12-year prison sentence for his part in the corruption.

Bolsonaro's candidacy raised serious concerns that he would roll back civil rights and weaken institutions.

In the face of what's expected to be stiff resistance, Bolsonaro will have to move quickly to reassure worldwide investors that he's up to the job of righting Brazil's finances.

Within minutes of his victory being declared, worldwide civil rights groups expressed concerns. Each camp argued that victory for the other could destroy Brazil. He has repeatedly said he would pull Brazil from the Paris agreement on climate change, though he backed off that slightly this week, and promised to cut environmental regulations to make Brazil friendlier to worldwide investors.

Steve Schwartzman of the Environmental Defense Fund warned that Bolsonaro's promises about the environment would be "dangerous to the planet".

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