Brazilians go to polls in tense presidential race

Front-runner Jair Bolsonaro praises past dictatorships, promises brutal crackdown on crime and corruption

A demonstrator shows a picture of Brazilian presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, that reads: ‘vomit’ during a protest against him in São Paulo, Brazil. Photograph: REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

A demonstrator shows a picture of Brazilian presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, that reads: ‘vomit’ during a protest against him in São Paulo, Brazil. Photograph: REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

 

Brazilians will vote on Sunday in a polarised presidential race that could result in the election of a far-right former army captain.

Front-runner Jair Bolsonaro has surged in opinion polls in the past week. His praise of past dictatorships enrages critics, but his promise of a brutal crackdown on crime and corruption has electrified his supporters.

Mr Bolsonaro 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 rising crime in the country with more murders than any other.

But Brazil is split over what cost to its democracy it may pay if it chooses Mr Bolsonaro, a long-time congressman who has repeatedly praised the 1964-85 military regime but now vows to stick strongly to democratic ideals, a conversion many question.

Mr Bolsonaro’s closest rival is PT candidate Fernando Haddad, a former mayor of São Paulo and one-time education minister. He is standing in for the party’s imprisoned founder, former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Two polls published late on Saturday showed Mr Bolsonaro had increased his lead over Mr Haddad in the past two days, taking 36 per cent of voter intentions compared with Mr Haddad’s 22 pe rcent. The pair are deadlocked in a likely run-off vote on October 28th that is required if no candidate takes a majority on Sunday. – Reuters