Brazilians vote in tense presidential race led by right-winger

Jair Bolsonaro

The main political adviser to Brazil's far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro said he will work Monday to stitch together alliances with individual lawmakers to ensure a runoff victory for the former Army captain.

Bolsonaro, 63, was accompanied by a nurse as he cast his vote on Sunday, a month after a near-fatal stabbing at a campaign rally that required two emergency surgeries.

An exit poll also showed one of Bolsonaro's closest aides, former police Major Olimpio Gomes, scoring a surprise win in the Senate race in Sao Paulo state.

"This election in Brazil is highly emotional and, being emotional, many voters have very little interest in the details of policy making that each candidate proposes", he said.

Front-runner Jair Bolsonaro, who some call a tropical Trump, has surged in opinion polls in the past week.

Many voters also like his promises to tackle corruption and to cut climbing public debt through privatizations, as well as the devout Catholic's family-first stance.

If you like this story, share it with a friend! Haddad stood as candidate in place of the popular ex-President Luiz Inacio da Silva, nicknamed Lula, who is sitting in prison for corruption and barred from running. "We received a lot of criticism from electronic voting booths, some people voted for governor and closed the vote, others pressed the 1 and appeared the candidate of the left [Haddad]", said Bolsonaro.

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"Bolsonaro is accelerating the rupture of Brazilians into two antagonistic camps", said Robert Muggah, director of the Igarapé Institute, a Rio de Janeiro-based think tank that specializes in security issues.

Mr. Haddad flew on Monday to the southern city of Curitiba to visit Mr. da Silva, the party's founder and still one of the country's most beloved figures, in jail.

Bolsonaro is riding a wave of anger at the establishment over one of the world's largest political graft schemes and rising crime in the country with the most murders in the world.

Bolsonaro won in four of the five regions of Brazil, only losing to Haddad in the northeast, a PT stronghold. Whoever ultimately wins the presidency in the world's eighth largest economy will grapple with a large bloc of ideological hostility. "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.

In Rio de Janeiro, Clara Gentil turned out to vote in Copacabana, wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the message "Not him". The north-eastern vote might save Brazil from Bolsonaro as an elected president, but whether the north-east can save Brazilian democracy - and prevent a return to the dark days of dictatorship - remains to be seen. With other candidates in the runoff election, the country would have had a real chance of calmer times. "People will be hungry, with a currency that is worth nothing", she said, while leaving a polling station with her daughter.

Temer - who took over after Lula's chosen successor Dilma Rousseff was impeached and ousted in 2016 for financial wrongdoing - was not standing for re-election.

"We have flirted too much with the left over the past 20 years".

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