Brazil Elections: Leftist PT Biggest Party in Lower House, Bolsonaro's PSL Expands

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The Social Liberal Party (PSL) candidate Bolsonaro was the victor of the first election round on Sunday (October 7), failing short of the 50 percent outright majority, but nonetheless accruing 46 percent of the vote. Jair Bolsonaro, 63, an ex-army captain known for his tough talk on crime and his vitriol against women, blacks, native Brazilians and gays, had been expected to do well in the first round of presidential elections on Sunday.

He picked up 47 percent of votes, against 28 percent for his nearest rival, left-wing candidate Fernando Haddad, electoral authorities said after counting ballots from 93 percent of polling stations.

The high-profile presidential race, however, may in the long-run pale in comparison to the significance of what happened in congress. Mr. Bolsonaro's previously obscure Social Liberal Party jumped from eight seats to 51, as part of a major shift to the right.

"Haddad can reach out and surpass Bolsonaro but he will have a hard time doing that, he will have to get nearly the totality of the vote of Ciro Gomes and bring in the blank voters as well as those who abstained", Thiago de Aragao, director at the Brasilia-based political consultancy Arko Advice, said.

Fernando Haddad, a former education minister and one-term mayor of Sao Paulo, is standing in for the party's jailed founder, former president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

With 92 percent of votes counted, Bolsonaro received 47 percent of valid ballots, far ahead of Haddad's 28 percent but short of the outright majority needed to avoid an October 28 runoff. His supporters blame the PT, which ruled Brazil for 13 of the past 15 years, along with reckless economic policies that contributed to Brazil's worst recession in a generation.

Experts predict political pyrotechnics between now and then as the two men lock horns on their dramatically different visions for Brazil.

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The final numbers showed a steady increase in Bolsonaro's support in comparison to the last opinion polls.

Bolsonaro's rise prompted a rally in recent days in Brazil's currency and stock market.

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula is now serving a 12-year prison sentence for corruption. He reportedly said to a female congresswoman, publicly, that he would not sexually assault her because she was not worthy of him.

Haddad secured 29% of votes in the first round.

"Haddad and Bolsonaro will both lead populist governments". He also echoed Trump when he called on his social media followers to "make Brazil great". "We have to believe in our Brazil. We have had a really significant number of big wigs removed and to that extent it's a protest vote and a vote for change", he added.

He is riding a wave of anger at the establishment after the uncovering of one of the world's largest political graft schemes, opposition to a return to power by the leftist Workers Party (PT) blamed for much of that corruption, and fears about spiking crime in the country with more murders than any other.

In Sao Paulo, supporters celebrated on a main avenue with a giant inflatable doll in military uniform depicting Bolsonaro's running mate, retired general Hamilton Mourão.