Brazil presidential elections: Far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro wins first round

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Jair Bolsonaro, a pro-dictatorship former army captain, secured almost 50m votes in the first round of Brazil's presidential election on Sunday - about 46% of the total and just short of the outright majority needed to claim victory.

Preliminary results show that Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right congressman and former army captain, returned a commanding lead in the first round of Brazil's presidential election. In the weeks ahead of an October 28 runoff against former Sao Paulo mayor Fernando Haddad, Bolsonaro's main proposals are sure to come under much scrutiny.

With no backing from major parties and little funding, Mr Bolsonaro relied on his skilful use of social media during the campaign.

"Haddad can reach out and surpass Bolsonaro but he will have a hard time doing that, he will have to get nearly the totality of the vote of Ciro Gomes and bring in the blank voters as well as those who abstained", Thiago de Aragao, director at the Brasilia-based political consultancy Arko Advice, said.

Brazil's presidential candidate for the Workers' Party (PT), Fernando Haddad and the vice-president candidate Manuela D'Avila hold their hands up after the first round of the general elections at a hotel, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on October 7, 2018.

Mr. Bolsonaro won a surprising 46%, just short of the 50% needed to win outright in the first round. His supporters blame the PT, which ruled Brazil for 13 of the past 15 years, along with reckless economic policies that contributed to Brazil's worst recession in a generation.

The two men do share some similarities, including their disdain for political correctness and lack of a filter.

Many voters who supported the fourth-place finisher - conservative Alckmin - may break for Bolsonaro, putting him over the top.

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Some voters - particularly women - wore "Not Him" slogans to polling stations, declaring their fierce opposition to Bolsonaro. Workers' Party stalwarts are still fuming about the 2016 impeachment and removal from office of President Dilma Rousseff, da Silva's predecessor. The north-eastern states, however, all voted for Fernando Haddad, of the Worker's Party, or the centre-left candidate, Ciro Gomes. "Bolsonaro is openly anti-democratic, denigrates minorities and several of his supporters may take his victory as an authorization to attack [verbally or physically] their opponents", he said.

But Haddad is facing a tough challenge, not least because he is running as a stand-in Lula.

"We've had enough of corruption".

Brazil's next Congress was also elected on Sunday, and in a seismic shift, Bolsonaro's once-tiny Social Liberal Party (PSL) was poised to become the second-largest force in the body.

Many voters, already disillusioned with their democracy, said they felt trapped by the choice between the two front-runners, a sentiment likely to deepen in the weeks to come.

Thirty parties won seats in the lower house, up from 25 represented there before the vote.

"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.

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