RIO DE JANEIRO: Brazil entered a new era on Monday after electing its next president, Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right congressman who vowed a fundamental change in direction for the giant Latin American country.
Bolsonaro, who openly admires Brazil’s former military dictatorship and shocked many with his derogatory remarks on women and blacks, won 55 per cent of the vote in a run-off election on Sunday — more than 10 points ahead of leftist opponent Fernando Haddad.
Having channelled voters’ anger with corruption, crime and economic malaise, he will now get down to work trying to deliver on the promise he made in his victory speech: to “change Brazil’s destiny.”
Bolsonaro, 63, is due to fly to Brasilia on Tuesday to start the transition process, which will culminate with his swearing-in on January 1.
His schedule includes meetings with deeply unpopular outgoing President Michel Temer, as well as the chief justice of the Supreme Court and the army chief of staff.
After a vitriolic campaign that left Brazil deeply polarised, the country is anxiously waiting to see what Bolsonaro’s presidency will actually look like.
One of his top advisers, economic guru Paulo Guedes, promised on Sunday night that the changes would be sweeping indeed, at least as far as managing the world’s eighth-largest economy is concerned.
Haddad said on Sunday night he would fight to “defend the freedoms of those 45 million people” who voted for him.
“President Jair Bolsonaro, I wish you success. Our country deserves the best,” Haddad tweeted on Monday.
US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin were among the world leaders who on Monday congratulated Bolsonaro.
Trump wrote on Twitter that he had a “very good conversation” with Bolsonaro: “We agreed that Brazil and the United States will work closely together on Trade, Military and everything else! Excellent call, wished him congrats!”
Putin and Italy’s leader of the far-right League, Matteo Salvini, also welcomed Bolsonaro’s win.
The German government issued a guarded response to Bolsonaro, saying only that it hoped to maintain their bilateral relationship “on the basis of our joint values.” — AFP/dpa