Spotlight: Brazil wraps up first round of elections; Bolsonaro, Haddad head for run-off

Source: Xinhua| 2018-10-08 19:28:07|Editor: xuxin
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RIO DE JANEIRO, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- Brazil's general elections wrapped up late Sunday and the official final results showed that the right-wing Jair Bolsonaro and his left-leaning rival Fernando Haddad are headed for a run-off later this month.

Brazil's Superior Electoral Court (TSE) said that the final results, available shortly before 9 p.m. local time (0000 GMT Monday), confirmed that voters will be heading to the polls again for the second round of the presidential election.

The final tally showed Bolsonaro, from the Social Liberal Party, won 46.1 percent of the votes, while Haddad, from the Workers' Party, had 29.1 percent.

The elections were "clean, serene, transparent and agile," said Rosa Weber, president of the TSE.

"The elections took place peacefully and the will of the Brazilian people was comprehensively respected," she added.

Voter turnout was at 79.67 percent, or about 112 million out of 147 million eligible voters, leaving the abstention rate at 20.33 percent (or more than 28 million people). Voting is mandatory in Brazil.

Some 91.22 percent of the votes cast were valid, while 2.67 percent of the ballots were left blank and 6.11 percent nullified.

It requires over 50 percent of the valid votes for a presidential candidate to claim an outright win in the first round of the election. If none of the candidates has secured an absolute majority, a second round will be held.

On Sunday, Brazilians voted to choose a new president and vice president, 27 governors and vice governors, 54 senators, 513 federal representatives and 1,059 state representatives.

The TSE said the elections on Sunday ran smoothly throughout the country, with few incidents.

All Brazilian presidential candidates have already voted in the first round of the general elections.

Bolsonaro voted on Sunday morning in Rio, accompanied by one of his sons, who is also a politician and is running for the Senate.

As he left the voting site, the candidate told reporters that he was still not fully healed from the attack he suffered last month.

Bolsonaro was stabbed in the gut on Sept. 6, as he campaigned in Minas Gerais state. The attacker was immediately arrested and put into jail. Preliminary investigations showed the attacker was a lone wolf, acting out of his own volition.

Bolsonaro underwent two surgeries and is currently using a colostomy bag. He may have to undergo a third surgery in the near future to take it off.

In his speech, the candidate reinforced the far-right discourse and made a reference to Venezuela. Though Brazil never actually had a socialist government, Bolsonaro has been using the neighboring country, which is facing severe economic and political problems, as a dire example of what Brazil could become if his rivals win the election.

"We have had the support of important sectors of society: businessmen, merchants, evangelical leaders, good people in Brazil who want to move away from socialism and do not want to flirt with the Venezuelan regime," he said.

"People who want a liberal economy, with less State presence, and who want to defend family values. People are realizing that Brazil cannot continue in the direction of socialism; we do not want Brazil to become like Venezuela in the future," he said.

Haddad voted on Sunday in Sao Paulo, accompanied by his wife, Ana Estela.

After casting his ballots, Haddad, who replaced iconic former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on the PT ticket, told reporters that he had confidence in his presence in the second round of elections and criticized leading candidate Bolsonaro.

Haddad said that in the second round, Bolsonaro will not be able to "hide behind his social networks."

Bolsonaro is somewhat of a social media phenomenon, with millions of followers comparing him to a Messiah, especially after he was stabbed during a campaign event in early September.

Even before the attack, Bolsonaro had declared he would not attend any debates, after some poor performances. After the attack, he was in the hospital and later recovering at home. Despite not going to debates, he gave several interviews and made a number of Facebook livestreams.

"He has great difficulty in debates," Haddad said. "He would have great difficulties to debate in the second round. He has no team, he has no project."

The Sustainability Network Party's Marina Silva voted in her home state of Acre, accompanied by her husband and sister. After voting, she talked about her campaign and criticized the excessive polarization of Brazilian politics, represented by the candidacies of Bolsonaro and Haddad, the two top-ranked candidates in polls.

"Brazil is going through a very serious political, economic, social crisis, and a crisis of values as well. The two parties which are now engaging in this polarization are not an alternative for the Brazilian society," she said.

Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB)'s Geraldo Alckmin voted in Sao Paulo, where he served as governor. He was accompanied by his wife Lu Alckmin and political allies.

The Socialism and Freedom Party's Guilherme Boulos also voted in Sao Paulo and asked electors not to vote out of hate.

"We cannot fool around with the country almost falling from a cliff. No more dictatorship," he said. "Do not put hate in the ballot. Put in your dreams and hopes."