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Bolsonaro's rise is a new blow for liberal democracy

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(Andre Coelho)

The once unthinkable became almost a reality on Sunday . Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right politician who was sometimes compared to President Trump, won nearly the absolute majority in the first round of the Brazilian presidential election. If he had succeeded, he would have won the presidency. Instead, he is the clear favorite in the runoff for October 28 planned.

It was not long ago that the bruise and splitting Bolsonaro, a 63-year-old ex-paratrooper, was a marginal figure with little hope of winning in Brasilia. Even in the weeks leading up to Sunday's election, experts hinted that the country's political process would slow down its rise. In a second round, voters would be behind a mainstream challenger. A national legislature with opponents would force Bolsonaro to temper his hard positions.

But growing support for Bolsonaro's angry anti-establishment policy has also put the Brazilian Congress, with its once-obscure social-liberal party, second to the left-wing workers' party of imprisoned former president Lula Inácio da Silva. A number of veterans – two-thirds of established officials – have been swept away as a new, rising generation of celebrity creators is ready to go to the country's lower house.

Lula's anointed successor, the former mayor of Sao Paulo, will be fighting Fernando Haddad to close the gaping gap between him and Bolsonaro before the second round. Proponents of the top candidate envisage taking the reins with solid support from a number of middle-right and far-right parties and much legislative support. "What emerges from this election is a congress that can better enforce Bolsonaro's reforms," ​​said Juliano Griebeler, a political analyst with Barral M Jorge, a management consultancy, to Bloomberg News.

Bolsonaro came at this time on the back of Years of Arson . As we have already said, he is notorious for his outbreaks of bigotry by launching slain speeches against minorities, immigrants, women and LGBT Brazilians. He threw himself out as a candidate and said he would give police greater freedom to kill criminals with impunity and make it easier for ordinary Brazilians to acquire their own firearms. As a Protestant Christian, he courted religious voters and missed conservative culture warriors. And he profited from the widespread anger over the country's political class, which is in a big corruption scandal.

"I voted for Bolsonaro because I'm tired of politicians being the same", Aparecida de Oliveira, 63 years old – The old housekeeper who left her ballot in an upper middle class district of Sao Paulo said to my colleagues. "Even if he is a little crazy, someone has to change something."

"Brazil 2018 is an epic story of an establishment that could not listen, ignoring the issues most affecting voters (crime and corruption)" Do not take the insurgents seriously, "tweeted Brian Winter Editor-in-Chief of Americas Quarterly, "It's a global story, but it's particularly pronounced here."

The effects of Bolsonaro's success are enormous – and grim to many observers – Bolsonaro nostalgically spoke of the decades when Brazil ruled a murderous legal dictatorship He praised former military personnel involved in the torture of leftist political prisoners and once said that the dictatorship's biggest mistake is not killing more of them.

A leading Mexican cartoonist had a strong reaction the Brazilian election results on Monday:

That a critical mass of Br Bolsonaro supports asylum seekers is a sign of how polar and toxic the country's political climate has become – a phenomenon that is becoming increasingly apparent in democracies around the world. "It's an event of global significance, the final chapter in a developing history of the destruction of liberal norms and the rise of populism," wrote the Financial Times columnist Gideon Rachman.

"If we want to take things seriously, the Bolsonaro I said in the campaign that I think Brazil's democracy is in great danger," said Lilia Schwarcz, a well-known Brazilian historian, to the New York Times. She added, "We felt that the rights that were conquered were rights that were consolidated, and I have come to the conclusion that we are stupid, we must continue to fight for them."

For many Brazilians do not seem to have Haddad, Bolsonaro's opponent, to lead this fight. His leftist workers' party, especially under Lula's hugely popular government, led a massive economic boom that drove millions of Brazilians out of poverty. But key figures in his leadership later became involved in the country's endemic transplant, alongside most of Brazil's establishment.

"I think Bolsonaro will continue to do what he does, I do not think he has much to change," said Glauco Peres, a political scientist at the University of Sao Paolo, the Guardian. "He will continue hammering that idea of ​​fear … that [Workers’ Party] represents a step backwards in corruption scandals and has criminals in government."

Unlike the larger-than-life Lula, who is still a leftist. Haddad "is a shy, pragmatic economist," wrote my colleagues Anthony Faiola and Marina Lopes, noting that "he was trying to reassuring investors that he will not pursue a radical leftist policy will require harsh reforms to avoid another economic crisis here. "

There is no doubt about his counterpart. "Bolsonaro is a strange phenomenon," said Lucas de Aragao, director of Arko Advice, a political risk company in Brasilia, to the Post. "It has no precedent in Brazil – even some Lula voters turn to it – it's because Brazil loves the idea of ​​a savior, a hero, and Bolsonaro now portrays this image of a Savior as well as Lula."

But his critics warn that such a picture is just an illusion. "Brazilians can embrace the politics of division and the seductive appeal of simplifying solutions through the path of populist authoritarians in Hungary, Poland and the Philippines," wrote Robert Muggah, co-founder of a think tank in Rio de Janeiro. "Alternatively, they can preserve and renew their young democracy."

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