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Brazil elections: Far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro set to win

31 October 2018

Haddad narrowed Bolsonaro's lead to 8 percentage points in an Ibope poll released late Saturday, a survey that gave him 46 percent compared with Bolsonaro's 54 percent. More recently during the campaign, he's pledged to uphold democracy.

Mr. Witzel caused quite a stir upon reaching the runoff, defeating a host of traditional candidates, thanks to his connections with Jair Bolsonaro.

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But the race narrowed after last-minute criticism over the weekend - including from a supreme court justice who tweeted he was "scared" by a Bolsonaro presidency, and a prominent YouTuber. Likewise, former Attorney General Rodrigo Janot, one of the biggest crusaders against corruption in the Workers' Party in recent years, also endorsed Haddad.

One of the most important endorsements, particularly for young people, came from Youtuber Felipe Neto, whose channel has almost 27 million followers.

"I feel in my heart that things will change", said Sandra Coccato, a 68-year-old small business owner, after she voted for Mr Bolsonaro in Sao Paulo.

"I was never alone.

I always felt the presence of God and the force of the Brazilian people", Bolsonaro said, speaking to supporters outside his home in Rio de Janeiro.

Although many voters expressed strong dislike for Bolsonaro, even more rejected Haddad and his Workers' Party, which had won the past four presidential elections.

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"If you have three crises happening at the same time - economic, political and moral, ethical in a way - I think you create a scenario which is flawless for outsiders and authoritarian, fringe candidates", said Oliver Stuenkel, an associate professor of worldwide relations at the Fundacao Getulio Vargas university in Sao Paulo. "We are going to change the destiny of Brazil".

Center-right President Michel Temer, who is set to leave office as the most unpopular leader in Brazil's modern democracy, congratulated Bolsonaro and said the transition process would start Monday. "We will join them in standing up against any attempt to erode the democratic rights and institutions that Brazil has painstakingly built in the last three decades".

The past few years in Brazil have been exceptionally turbulent. Lula, President from 2003 to 2011, was succeeded by Dilma Rousseff, who was impeached in 2016. Latin America's largest economy has been stuck in recession since 2014.

Mr Bolsonaro has also said that he will "cleanse" Brazil of corrupt politicians, a campaign promise which was very popular with Brazilians who say they are exhausted of the corruption which has seen dozens of high-ranking politicians from the established parties jailed. He himself was a victim of violence, stabbed in the chest while out campaigning in early September. He said that "we will shoot" Workers Party supporters and told "leftist outlaws" to either leave the country or find themselves in jail.

Many observers predicted that a newcomer would emerge to harness that anti-establishment anger.

In Taipei, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday extended its congratulations on its Twitter account: "We congratulate @jairbolsonaro on his victory in #Brazil's presidential election". Bolstering his rebel image is his reputation for offensive statements and sometimes extreme views, including insulting women, gays and blacks.

The judge who oversaw numerous cases in Brazil's massive corruption investigation also wished Bolsonaro well.

The environmental group Amazon Watch warned victory for Bolsonaro - who has vowed not to let conservation programs interfere with agro-industry - "spells disaster for the Brazilian Amazon". Several Brazilian heavyweights came out against him, arguing that he was a direct risk to the world's fourth-largest democracy.

Brazil elections: Far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro set to win