Brazil election: Jair Bolsonaro leads in exit polls

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Jair Bolsonaro, a presidential candidate in Brazil often compared to U.S. President Donald Trump, won the first round with 46 percent of the vote, just short of the 50 percent required to prevent a run-off.

In what is likely to be a deeply polarizing runoff, Bolsonaro, an outspoken apologist for Brazil's 1964-1985 military dictatorship, will now face leftist Fernando Haddad, the former mayor of Sao Paulo, in a second round of voting on October 28.

Haddad, the former mayor of Sao Paulo who replaced jailed former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in the contest, is seen as running neck-and-neck with Bolsonaro in the second round, surveys show.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - After weeks of campaigning and sparring for support amid spiralling polarisation throughout the country, Brazil's presidential race has been reduced from a field of 13 runners to a head-to-head race between far-right firebrand Jair Bolsonaro and leftist Fernando Haddad.

"But attacks on Bolsonaro have tended to strengthen him", she added. Crucially, he attracted the vote of former supporters of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira: PSDB), which used to be the PT's main rival, and some other smaller centre-right parties.

He is a former captain in the Brazilian military and presenter Stephen Fry recently stated that Bolsonaro's fantasy militarism made his interview with him "one of the most chilling confrontations" he has ever had. Much of that focused on the Workers' Party, and many voters cited a desire to root out corruption in their choice of Bolsonaro.

Brian Winter, the editor-in-chief of Americas Quarterly magazine, said the results underscored "the total disappearance of the Brazilian centre" and that Bolsonaro seemed nearly certain to glide to victory.

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Experts predict political pyrotechnics between now and then as the two men lock horns on their dramatically different visions for Brazil.

Nearly two-thirds of the electorate are concentrated in the more populous south and southeast of Brazil where its biggest cities, Sao Paulo and Rio Janeiro, are located - and where Bolsonaro holds a commanding lead.

The high-profile presidential race, however, may in the long-run pale in comparison to the significance of what happened in congress. Mr. Bolsonaro's previously obscure Social Liberal Party jumped from eight seats to 51, as part of a major shift to the right.

He would need to present a centrist economic platform, naming a future finance minister who will inspire market confidence, she said, in order to win back voters who dislike Mr. Bolsonaro's authoritarian tendencies, but mistrust the Workers' Party handling of the economy. And now it has failed to nominate a candidate who could appeal to conservative voters.

But Eduardo Bolsonaro, Jair's son, asked supporters to film themselves voting in case they faced problems, violating the law.

Haddad, though, has his own challenge.

Bolsonaro has promised to reverse a crime wave that brought a record 63,880 deaths in 2017, the most of any country in the world, by rolling back gun controls and making it easier for police to kill.