Bolsonaro allies ride conservative wave in Brazil elections

Upsets include little-known judge beating Rio Olympics mayor in state governor race


Eduardo Paes, the voluble, samba-dancing former mayor of Rio de Janeiro who presided over its Olympic Games, had expected to win his bid to become governor of Rio de Janeiro state. He had been leading the polls with 27% and was considered to be generally well liked by voters for his affable charm and love of his home city.

But a little-known conservative judge and former marine, Wilson Witzel, raced past him to finish first with 41%, forcing a runoff vote on 28 October.

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Who is Wilson Witzel? read one headline, a sign of the size of the upset. But voters knew one important thing about Witzel: he is allied to Jair Bolsonaro, the extreme rightwing candidate who was very nearly elected president on Sunday, and he had campaigned with Bolsonaros son Flvio, who himself was voted into the Senate.

Rios gubernatorial race was just one of the many upsets in Sundays voting for president, Congress and state governments. It was a conservative tsunami, said Marcelo Melo, a professor of political science at the Federal University of Pernambuco. This is a very clear reflection of the vertiginous ascension of Bolsonaro. This was all over Brazil, he said.

Wilson Witzel, seen during a televised debate last month, caused a major upset in Rio de Janeiro state. Photograph: Mauro Pimentel/AFP/Getty Images

Another of Bolsonaros sons, Eduardo, was re-elected to the lower house of Congress with 1.8 million votes from So Paulo state, a record tally for a federal deputy. Joice Hasselmann, a former journalist who runs a rightwing YouTube channel with 900,000 followers and who was fighting her first election, received the second most votes in the state with more than 1 million.

Across the country, conservatives allied to Bolsonaro and his tiny Social Liberal party (PSL) won far more votes than anybody had expected. Politicians increasingly grabbed at his coattails as his star rose. The So Paulo mayor, Joo Doria, allied with Bolsonaro in his race for governor and goes into a runoff vote with a clear lead. It was a smart, if cynical move: his own Social Democracy party (PSDB), traditionally one of Brazils big two, lost nearly half its federal deputies. Its candidate for president, Geraldo Alckmin, Dorias political mentor and a former So Paulo governor, received less than 5% of the vote.

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Four years ago the PSL had just one deputy elected. On Sunday it became the second biggest party in the lower house, with 52 deputies including Luiz Philippe de Orlans e Bragana, a descendant of the royal family that once ruled Brazil, and Alexandre Frota, a former actor in pornographic movies. The partys president, Gustavo Bebianno Rocha, a lawyer, said on Sunday night that political experts would have to rewrite everything, and described himself as a novice in politics. This is the biggest change we could have in a country that changes very slowly, Melo said.

Jair Bolsonaro will face the former So Paulo mayor Fernando Haddad, from the leftist Workers party (PT), in the runoff vote. Haddad took over the partys candidacy after its founder, the two-times president Luiz Incio Lula da Silva, was ruled out because he is serving a prison sentence for graft. The PT party lost some high-profile races.

Lulas successor as president, Dilma Rousseff, who was removed in 2016 in an impeachment process, failed to get elected to the Senate. Lindbergh Farias, a high-profile PT senator in Rio, failed to get re-elected. Eduardo Suplicy, a popular PT councillor in So Paulo, lost his Senate bid.

Carlos Melo, a professor of political science at the So Paulo business school Insper, noted that the PT continued to be the biggest party in the lower house with 56 seats, five fewer than before. The PT lost a lot of deputies but still has the biggest caucus, he said.

Brazilian progressives took heart from other victories. In the Amazon state of Roraima, Jonia Wapixana became Brazils first indigenous deputy in decades. In Rio, Marcelo Freixo, a popular leftist from the small Socialism and Freedom party, received the second most votes for federal deputy and three other deputies were elected with him, including Talria Petrone, who will be one of the few black female lawmakers in Congress.

In neighbouring Esprito Santo state, Fabiano Contarato became Brazils first openly gay senator, costing an evangelical pastor and close Bolsonaro ally, Magno Malta, his seat. The left has not fallen yet, Melo said.

Original Article : HERE ; This post was curated & posted using : RealSpecific

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