The first round of Brazilian presidential elections failed to produce a clear winner. The neo-conservative extreme right wing Bolsonaro emerges as the most popular candidate in the first round.
Brazil stands bitterly divided and polarised country as it going for the second round to elect new president. The rightwing ruling class and reformist left and moderates stood at crossroads on the question of country’s direction. There is stark choice for the voters in the run-off between far-right firebrand Jair Bolsonaro and leftist Fernando Haddad. Brazilian voters will elect the president on October 28.
Bolsonaro, an ultraconservative former paratrooper, easily beat a dozen other candidates on October 07 but not by enough to avoid an October 28 showdown with Haddad, the former mayor of Sao Paulo. Bolsonaro won 46% of the vote to Haddad’s 29%, in the first round according to official results. No candidate succeeded to secure the required 50% threshold to become president after the round one.
The former president and founding leader of Workers Party Lula De Silva was favourite to win the presidential elections. But he was imprisoned and then later disqualified to contest the elections. He was so popular that even he was leading with margin in all the opinion polls from the prison cell. He was president of Brazil from 2002 to 2010.
His ouster from the race provided perfect opportunity to Rightwing Bolsonaro to cement his position as the leading contender. The media portray the negative image of Workers Party that also helped the rightwing candidate. The corruption scandals and allegations tarnished the image of Workers Party.
That tracked closely with pollster’s predictions, but Bolsonaro charged that “polling problems” had cheated him of outright victory in the first round, which required him to pass the 50% threshold.
Surveys suggest Bolsonaro will have the edge, but that Haddad will draw nearly even with him after picking up substantial support from the defeated candidates.
Haddad, addressing his own supporters, called the looming run-off “a golden opportunity,” and challenged Bolsonaro to a debate. He replaced popular former president LuizInacio Lula da Silva in the race after Lula, imprisoned for corruption, was disqualified.
Despite his complaints, Bolsonaro did not formally contest Sunday’s result, saying his voters “remain mobilised” for the second round. But he faces fierce resistance going forward from a big part of Brazil’s 147-million-strong electorate, put off by his record of denigrating comments against women, gays and the poor.
As the Workers’ Party candidate, he faces the palpable disappointment and anger of voters who blame the party for Brazil’s worst-ever recession, and for a long string of graft scandals.
Better-off middle class Brazilians have rallied to Bolsonaro pledge to crush crime in a country where there are more than 62,000 murders each year, nearly as many rapes, and frequent muggings and robberies. Bolsonaro wants to boost police forces and relax gun laws for “good” citizens.
Many voters also like his promises to tackle corruption and to cut climbing public debt through privatizations, as well as the devout Catholic’s family-first stance.
But poorer Brazilians, who benefited the most from the heyday during Lula’s time in office from 2003 to 2010, want a return to good times and hope Haddad can deliver. The result is a very split electorate. Whoever ultimately wins the presidency in the world’s eighth largest economy will grapple with a large bloc of ideological hostility.
Despite sitting in congress for nearly three decades, Bolsonaro casts himself as a political outsider like America’s Donald Trump or the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte: tough-talking, brash, and promising a root-and-branch overhaul to an electorate weary of traditional parties spouting empty promises.
Brazilian economy is the real matter of concern. Brazil is the 8th largest economy in the world. But it is in crisis since 2014. It experienced recession in 2016 and 2017. This crisis is not over yet.
Brazil is the regional powerhouse of South America. Its political and economic crisis affects the whole region. At the end of 2016, Brazil’s GDP accounted for approximately 60 percent of the total GDP of South America and close to 40 percent of the total output of all of Latin America. Brazil’s “rise” as a global power and its growing clout on a host of global issues raise as many questions as they answers about the Brazil’s relationship with other nations in South America.
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25 August, 2019