Far-right congressman Jair Bolsonaro has been declared the winner of Brazil’s presidential election which was deemed as one of the most polarising and violent political campaigns in the country’s history, amid a prolonged recession, rising crime rates and widespread corruption scandals.
He was declared the winner by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal on Sunday night after 94 per cent of the votes that were cast earlier in the day, were counted, easily defeating his leftist rival, former Sao Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad from the Workers’ Party that previously governed the country for 13 years, CNN reported.
The 63-year-old Bolsonaro’s tenure will begin from January 1, 2019. According to the Tribunal, Bolsonaro led with 55.54 per cent of the votes to Haddad’s 44.46 per cent.
Bolsonaro had won the first round of the elections on October 7 amid a field of 13 candidates, but he fell short of the 50 per cent needed to win outright and avoid a runoff against Haddad.
In a victory speech on Sunday, Bolsonaro said he was a “defender of freedom” who would run a government that protected citizens who “follow their duties and respect the laws”.
“The laws are for everyone, this is how it will be during our constitutional and democratic government,” he said.
Bolsonaro also said that he received congratulatory calls from several world leaders including US President Donald Trump, whom he considers his role model, reports Efe news.
“The President of the US just called us and wished us good luck. Obviously, it was a very friendly contact,” he said.
Bolsonaro added that his government’s foreign policy will seek closer relations with countries that have been relegated by Brazil because, he said, the Workers’ Party under former Presidents Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and then Dilma Rousseff, only approached countries that were ideologically close.
He vowed to bring Brazil closer to the most developed countries and recover “international respect”.
Meanwhile, Haddad said that he had “a responsibility to join the political opposition” against Bolsonaro and promised to “defend the freedoms of those 45 million people” who voted for him.
He also demanded that the rights of those who had not voted for Bolsonaro be respected.
Throughout the campaign, dozens of politically motivated acts of violence were registered by voters, journalist and politicians, CNN said.
Bolsonaro was stabbed in the stomach last month during a rally in Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais state.
Bolsonaro, who has been compared to Trump and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, has stirred controversy by making misogynistic, racist and homophobic remarks.
He once told a congresswoman that she did not deserve to be raped because she was “very ugly”, Brazil’s TV Globo reported.
He also said publicly he’d prefer to see his son “die in an accident” than a member of his family be homosexual.
For the past two years, Brazil has been led by a conservative, Michel Temer, following the impeachment of former President Rousseff. But Temer has proven deeply unpopular with Brazilians. Temer’s approval rating fell to a record low of 2 per cent.