Voting polls close in Brazil's presidential race

Brazil votes amid anger at the ruling class

Brazilians showed their disgust with corruption and rising crime in the first round of presidential voting, almost giving an outright victory to a brash-speaking former army captain who has promised to restore "traditional values", jail crooked politicians and give police a freer hand to shoot drug traffickers.

Far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, from the Social Liberal Party (Partido Social Liberal: PSL) came first in the first round of the Brazil's presidential election, with 46% of the vote. A quarter of the voters are in the less developed northeast, traditionally a PT stronghold.

"The evils and damages of corruption hurt the people in many ways". It's not clear what Bolsonaro would do to further isolate Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, but he once suggested creating camps for the Venezuelans who have fled the country's economic collapse. "A corrupt government encourages crime in all spheres". However, she failed to get re-elected, coming in a distant fourth.

The candidate from the small Social and Liberal Party used Twitter and Facebook to reach voters and to capitalise on the country's anger in the wake of a massive corruption scandal. "Bolsonaro is far more radical than [U.S. President Donald] Trump, and Brazil's institutions are weaker". A recently released manifesto signed by Noam Chomsky and other intellectuals and activists described Bolsonaro as a "fascist, racist, chauvinist and homophobic candidate, one who calls for violence and armed repression".

Bolsonaro's surge in opinion polls prompted a rally in recent days in Brazil's currency and stock market. Brazil has always been the world leader in homicides, with a record 63,880 people slain past year, according the Brazilian Public Security Forum, an independent think-tank.

Monica de Bolle, the director of Latin American studies at Johns Hopkins University, said she expected Bolsonaro to come under heavy fire from Haddad and other defeated presidential candidates, above all for his disdain for democracy.

But Eduardo Bolsonaro, Jair's son, asked supporters to film themselves voting in case they faced problems, violating the law. He has painted a Brazil not only at war with criminals but, in many ways, with itself.

Haddad can only win in the second round if he converts sceptics, galvanises Sunday's vanquished centrist candidates and their supporters and goes after his opponent on policy issues such as crime and security which, until now, he has appeared unwilling to grapple with, analysts said. Bolsonaro frequently evoked the country's military dictatorship amid promises of a return to traditional values and safer, simpler times.

In an interview Monday with a friendly radio station, Bolsonaro indicated he would not change his hard-line views on issues like gay marriage.

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This election says a lot about the Brazilian people's inconsistency.

Another backer of Bolsonaro, and potentially a vice president to him, is Gen. Antonio Hamilton Mourao, 65, who allowed a tribute in 2015 to a former member of the military dictatorship recognized by Brazilian justice officials as a torturer during the military rule.

"My administration will have authority, not authoritarianism", he said.

The center-left, in turn, collapsed with the candidacy of Lula, Brazil's most beloved and simultaneously most despised politician.

Mr Bolsonaro's stabbing forced candidates, and Mr Bolsonaro himself, to shift strategies and recalibrate.

He had appealed via social media for voters to hand him a first-round victory with a 50 per cent result. He will likely face much tougher scrutiny and questioning by reporters over the next three weeks.

Beginning in 2014, prosecutors alleged that Brazil's government was run like a cartel for years, with billions of dollars in public contracts handed out in exchange for kickbacks and bribes.

Asked if he would continue his "conservative preaching" or tack to the centre ground to attract new voters, Bolsonaro replied: "I can't just suddenly become "Little Peace and Love Jair" ..."

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