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Far right candidate surges ahead in Brazil’s election

Far right candidate surges ahead in Brazil’s general elections, echoing populist trends in the US and Europe

Dr Marc Lanteigne (Centre for Defence and Security Studies.

Dr Lanteigne says election front running far-right candidate and former military officer Jair Messias Bolsonaro of the Social Liberal Party.Bolsonaro has won the most votes - but not enough to prevent a runoff vote on the 28th.

“The general elections which took place on Sunday [October 7] in Brazil may result in a political earthquake, especially given the front runner, far-right candidate and former military officer Jair Messias Bolsonaro of the Social Liberal Party,” says Dr Lanteigne. “He has been accused of making misogynist and homophobic statements, as well as expressing positive views of the era of military dictatorship. His platform has echoed that of populist campaigns in Europe as well as Donald Trump, and he has borrowed a great deal of Trumpist rhetoric, including promising to restore Brazil's previous greatness. His harsh comments have produced a massive backlash, including protests in several Brazilian cities, under the banner of 'Not him' (Ele não).”

Brazil, he adds, “has been struggling with recession as well as a loss of faith in mainstream politics, especially due to two recent previous presidents, Dilma Rousseff and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, being indicted for corruption. The current president, Michel Temer, is also unpopular and has been accused of being ineffective in dealing with the country's economic slowdown and rising crime rates. The concern now is that should Mr Bolsonaro win, it would represent a massive political lurch to the right and greatly harm Brazilian relations with neighbours and trading partners, including in South America but also with Australia and New Zealand.”

If no candidate receives more than 50 per cent of the valid ballots, there will be a second round later in October. Mr Bolsonaro's closest rival, Mr Fernando Haddad of the centre-left Workers' Party, is seen as the moderate alternative, but with many voters tiring of 'politics as usual', it remains unclear whether the political centre in the country will get the same public support as before, says Dr Lanteigne.

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