Bolsonaro Election Effect Turns Brazil's Congress on Its Head

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Early exit polls in Brazil's presidential election suggest the far-right candidate, Jair Bolsonaro, will win the first round. Bolsonaro, who received 46% of votes, will face leftist candidate Fernando Haddad in the second round on October 28. The clear probability is that after Brazil's run off vote in three weeks, Jair Bolsonaro will be the latest in a slew of anti-establishment leaders to take office around the world.

"We're going to have a huge caucus, perfectly governable, to pass the bills that the society is demanding - to conclude the reforms that are underway", Bivar said, referring to stalled efforts to trim public pensions and close a budget deficit. Crucially, he attracted the vote of former supporters of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira: PSDB), which used to be the PT's main rival, and some other smaller centre-right parties.

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.

Ligia Torggler, a 58-year-old Sao Paulo retiree, said she entered the polling station thinking she would vote for Geraldo Alckmin, a traditional center-right politician. "Our country needs someone to take tough measures", said civil servant Orlando Senna, 33, who said his uncle served in the army with Bolsonaro.

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Twenty percent of the eligible electorate meanwhile, almost 30 million people, abstained from voting.

Polls predicted Mr Bolsonaro would come out in front on Sunday, but he far outperformed expectations, blazing past competitors with more financing, institutional backing of parties and free air time on television. If no one gets a majority in the first round, the top two candidates will compete in a runoff.

Indeed, Bolsonaro already showed his ability to tap deep anger in Brazil with the traditional political class and "throw the bums out" rage after a massive corruption investigation revealed staggering levels of graft.

In the most polarized election since the end of military rule in 1985, Bolsonaro is backed by a group of retired generals who have criticized the 2003-2016 Workers Party governments and publicly advocate military intervention if corruption continues.

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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. And now it has failed to nominate a candidate who could appeal to conservative voters.

Supporters of presidential frontrunner Jair Bolsonaro of the Social Liberal Party, celebrate as they wait for the first results of the vote counting.

"Haddad's chance of victory depends much more on the performance of Bolsonaro than his own".

Meanwhile, a poster that said that voting for Bolsonaro would put north-easterners "in their place", also circulated online, with some suspecting it was an intentional campaign to arouse the north-east's anti-Bolsonaro sentiments. "They don't know what it was like under the dictatorship", he said.

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