Far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro has won a sweeping victory in Brazil’s presidential election. Bolsonaro won 55.2% of the votes cast against 44.8% for Fernando Haddad from the left-wing Workers’ Party, the Brazilian electoral authority reported.
Bolsonaro campaigned on a promise to eradicate corruption and to drive down Brazil’s high crime levels.
The election campaign has been deeply divisive. Each camp argued that victory for the other could destroy Brazil.
What does it mean?
Bolsonaro’s victory constitutes a markedly rightwards swing in the largest democracy in Latin America, which was governed by the left-wing Workers’ Party for 13 years between 2003 and 2016.
For the past two years, the country has been led by a conservative, Michel Temer, following the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. But Temer has proven deeply unpopular with Brazilians.
With the outgoing president’s approval rating at a record low of 2%, voters clamoured for change but they were deeply divided on which way that change should go.
Bolsonaro’s convincing 10-percentage-point victory means the vision he laid out to voters of a Brazil where law and order and family values would be made the priority won out.
He said his government would be a “defender of democracy and the constitution”. “This is not the promise of a party, nor the word of a man. It is an oath before God.”
Bolsonaro went on to tell his cheering supporters: “The commitment I assumed with the Brazilian people was to create a decent government, committed to the country and the people. And I guarantee you that I will. We will change Brazil’s destiny together.”
Critics of Bolsonaro are worried that the former army captain, who has expressed nostalgia for the years Brazil was under military rule, may curtail citizens’ freedoms and undermine Brazil’s constitution.
They are also worried about the rights of minorities following homophobic, racist and misogynistic remarks Bolsonaro made during the campaign and before.
Fernando Haddad said he had “a responsibility to join the political opposition” against Bolsonaro and promised to “defend the freedoms of those 45 million people” who voted for him.
He also demanded that the rights of those who had not voted for Bolsonaro be respected.
Haddad won in the north-east of Brazil, the heartland of the Workers’ Party and the stronghold of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, whom Haddad replaced on the Workers’ Party ticket after Lula was barred from running due to his corruption conviction.
But Bolsonaro won in all other parts of the country, and in some of them by a very large majority, ultimately giving him a sweeping overall victory.