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Jair Bolsonaro: Far-right candidate wins Brazil presidential election

'We cannot continue flirting with communism'

Eleanor Busby
Sunday 28 October 2018 23:44 GMT
Jair Bonson speaks to rally through phone saying socialists 'will go to jail or leave the country' if he wins

Far-right former army captain Jair Bolsonaro has won Brazil's presidential election, official results show.

With 96 per cent of ballots counted, Mr Bolsonaro had 55.5 per cent of the votes against 44.5 per cent for leftist Fernando Haddad of the Workers' Party.

In an acceptance address in which he vowed to carry out his campaign promises to stamp out corruption after years of leftist rule, Mr Bolsonaro said: "We cannot continue flirting with communism.

"We are going to change the destiny of Brazil."

Thousands of supporters of Mr Bolsonaro - who has been dubbed “Trump of the Tropics” – cheered and set off fireworks outside his home in Rio de Janeiro's Barra de Tijuca beachfront neighborhood as his victory was announced.

In Brazil's commercial capital of Sao Paulo, Mr Bolsonaro's win was greeted with fireworks and the honking of car horns.

"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.

"Lots of bad people are leaving, and lots of new, good people are entering. There's a light at the end of the tunnel."

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But many Brazilians are concerned that Mr Bolsonaro - who has spoken fondly of Brazil’s military dictatorship in 1964-1985 and who has defended its use of torture on leftist opponents - will trample on human rights, curtail civil liberties and muzzle freedom of speech.

The 63-year-old congressman has vowed to crack down on crime in Brazil's cities and farm belt by granting police more autonomy to shoot at criminals.

The new leader also wants to let more Brazilians buy weapons to fight crime.

Mr Bolsonaro went into Sunday the clear front-runner after getting 46 per cent of the votes to Mr Haddad's 29 per cent in the first round of the election earlier this month.

The race had tightened in recent days after opinion polls had Mr Bolsonaro leading by as much as 18 percentage points. But Mr Haddad was unable to make up the difference.

Mr Bolsonaro has a long history of offensive remarks about immigrants, black Brazilians and gay people.

In a speech made last year, Mr Bolsonaro spoke about a black settlement founded by the descendants of slaves. “They do nothing. They are not even good for procreation,” he said.

He has also reportedly referred to black activists as “animals” who should “go back to the zoo”.

Additional reporting by agencies

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