Brazil elects far-right president, worrying rights groups


Bolsonaro drew protests after claiming a former dictatorship's main mistake was not killing more people, and that if elected, he would shut down Brazil's National Congress.

After the first round of elections, held on October 7, Argentine head of State Mauricio Macri held a "cordial conversation" with Bolsonaro in the framework of the Brazilian electoral process. Haddad has promised a continuation of many progressive policies of his Workers' Party, which governed from 2003 to 2016.

The controversial right-wing presidential candidate nicknamed "Trump of the Tropics", Jair Bolsonaro, easily won Brazil's presidential election on Sunday, beating his Workers Party opponent Fernando Haddad by over ten points.

Bolsonaro nearly won outright, though, getting 46 percent.

Bolsonaro's campaign was riddled with controversy, including a stabbing incident that almost killed him on the campaign trail in September. For many Brazilians exhausted by stories of politicians plundering public coffers and living lavish lifestyles, the image of a stern and austere father figure ready to bring order to the house was refreshing.

The former army captain won 55.2% of the vote against 44.8% for Fernando Haddad of the left-wing Workers' Party.

The live broadcast of Bolsonaro's words was preceded by a prayer led by lawmaker, pastor and gospel singer Magno Malta, underscoring Bolsonaro's ties to evangelical churches that backed him for supporting their conservative social agenda.

"I feel in my heart that things will change", Sandra Coccato, a 68-year-old small business owner, said after she voted for Bolsonaro in Sao Paulo. He said he would like to double the size of the Supreme Court so that he can pack it with people who share his views.

French President Emmanuel Macron's message to Bolsonaro highlighted the need for "promotion of democratic principles", and Spanish President Pedro Sánchez spoke of enormous challenges in the years to come.

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Human rights activists worry that in a country where police violence is already rampant, officers could kill more innocent people with impunity.

"I was never alone". The procedure is banned in Brazil, but in recent years women's groups have been pushing to liberalize abortion laws.

That instability unleashed sharp anger against the political class but also revealed deep divisions in Brazilian society, and the campaign was the most polarized in decades.

Throughout the campaign, dozens of politically motivated acts of violence were registered by voters, journalist and politicians. Brazil has for years been one of the world's most unsafe countries for environmental defenders, and the Bolsonaro presidency could make their situation more dire. Hundreds of politicians, including former President Lula, have been arrested and jailed in a judicial investigation that has exposed corruption at the highest levels of government.

Brazilian citizens who live in MA joined their fellow country-mates and headed to the polls Sunday to participate in the South American country's run-off presidential election.

"I am confident we can win", said Haddad after voting at a school.

"If you have three crises happening at the same time - economic, political and moral, ethical in a way - I think you create a scenario which is ideal for outsiders and authoritarian, fringe candidates", said Oliver Stuenkel, an associate professor of global relations at the Fundacao Getulio Vargas university in Sao Paulo. Bolsonaro vowed to reduce public debt by 20 percent through privatization of public companies, carry out a pension reform and lower the age of criminal responsibility from 18 to 16.

Bolsonaro, whose attacks on China threaten to put a strain on their trade relationship, met twice with Chinese diplomats in recent weeks to discuss Brazil's export of grain and minerals to China.

"I hope that with these elections we're not signing a blank check again, and that we don't close our eyes to everything that has happened", said Jose Nobrega, a 53-year-old waiter in Mare, one of Rio's most violent neighborhoods.