Tue, Oct 09, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Split Brazilian vote speeds toward uncertain run-off

sECOND ROUND:Surveys suggest Bolsonaro would lead in the next round, but Haddad might draw even with him after picking up support from many defeated candidates

AFP, RIO DE JANEIRO

A deeply polarized Brazil stood at a political crossroads yesterday as the bruising first round of the presidential election left voters with a stark choice in the run-off between far-right firebrand Jair Bolsonaro and leftist Fernando Haddad.

Bolsonaro, an ultraconservative former paratrooper, easily beat a dozen other candidates on Sunday — but not by enough to avoid an Oct. 28 showdown with Haddad, the former mayor of Sao Paulo.

Bolsonaro won 46 percent of the vote to Haddad’s 29 percent, according to official results.

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 percent threshold.

Some of his supporters protested in the capital, Brasilia, chanting: “Fraud!”

Surveys suggest that Bolsonaro would have the edge in an uncertain second round, but that Haddad would draw nearly even with him after picking up substantial support from the defeated candidates.

“We expected to win in the first round,” one Bolsonaro voter, 77-year-old retiree Lourdes Azevedo, said bitterly in Rio de Janeiro. “Now things are more difficult.”

Haddad called the looming run-off “a golden opportunity,” and challenged Bolsonaro to a debate.

He replaced popular former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in the race after Lula, imprisoned for corruption, was disqualified.

Bolsonaro faces fierce resistance going forward from a big part of Brazil’s 147 million electorate put off by his record of denigrating comments against women, gays and the poor.

However, Haddad has his own burden.

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.

Sunday’s election — in which federal and state legislatures were also chosen — exposed the divisions generated by both candidates.

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