Brazil elections 2018: Bolsonaro, Haddad head for run-off

RIO DE JANEIRO – The controversial far-right candidate in Brazil’s presidential election, Jair Bolsonaro, won the first round on Sunday by a margin of 17 percentage points but fell short of the 50% of valid votes needed to win outright.

As the country’s general elections wrapped up late Sunday, the official final results showed that Bolsonaro and his left-leaning rival Fernando Haddad are headed for a run-off later on October 28.

Brazil’s Superior Electoral Court (TSE) said that the final results, available shortly before 9 p.m. local time (0000 GMT Monday), confirmed that voters will be heading to the polls again for the second round of the presidential election.

The final tally showed Bolsonaro, from the Social Liberal Party, won 46.1 percent of the votes, while Haddad, from the Workers’ Party, had 29.1 percent.

The elections were “clean, serene, transparent and agile,” said Rosa Weber, president of the TSE.

Brazil election 2018: Voting opens in polarized presidential race

Voter turnout was at 79.67 percent, or about 112 million out of 147 million eligible voters, leaving the abstention rate at 20.33 percent (or more than 28 million people). Voting is mandatory in Brazil.

Some 91.22 percent of the votes cast were valid, while 2.67 percent of the ballots were left blank and 6.11 percent nullified.

It requires over 50 percent of the valid votes for a presidential candidate to claim an outright win in the first round of the election. If none of the candidates has secured an absolute majority, a second round will be held.

On Sunday, Brazilians voted to choose a new president and vice president, 27 governors and vice governors, 54 senators, 513 federal representatives and 1,059 state representatives.

All Brazilian presidential candidates have already voted in the first round of the general elections.

Bolsonaro voted on Sunday morning in Rio, accompanied by one of his sons, who is also a politician and is running for the Senate.

As he left the voting site, the candidate told reporters that he was still not fully healed from the attack he suffered last month.

Bolsonaro was stabbed in the gut on Sept. 6, as he campaigned in Minas Gerais state. The attacker was immediately arrested and put into jail. Preliminary investigations showed the attacker was a lone wolf, acting out of his own volition.

Bolsonaro underwent two surgeries and is currently using a colostomy bag. He may have to undergo a third surgery in the near future to take it off.

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In his speech, Bolsonaro said he would not turn into a “peace and love” character to win votes.

Haddad voted on Sunday in Sao Paulo, accompanied by his wife, Ana Estela. After casting his ballots, Haddad, who replaced iconic former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on the PT ticket, told reporters that he had confidence in his presence in the second round of elections and criticized leading candidate Bolsonaro.

Haddad said that in the second round, Bolsonaro will not be able to “hide behind his social networks.”

On Monday, Haddad visited Lula, who was barred after being jailed for 12 years on corruption and money laundering charges, in his cell in the southern city of Curitiba. The move, while popular with the core supporters of the Workers’ Party, was criticized by those who think the candidate should distance himself from his jailed mentor.