RIO DE JANEIRO – Loved by some and hated by others, controversial far-right candidate Jair Messias Bolsonaro, also known as the Donald Trump of Brazil, reaffirmed on Sunday his popularity and became the most voted candidate in the presidential elections of Brazil.
With 46 percent of the votes, Bolsonaro did not achieve his goal of winning the presidency in the first round, for which he needed more than half of the votes, so he will need to compete in a runoff on Oct. 28 against Fernando Haddad from the Workers’ Party (PT), second most voted on Sunday with 28 percent.
The far-right candidate secured the lead in the elections despite being impeded from campaigning in the streets and forced to stay hospitalized for three weeks after a stab wound he received during an outdoor rally in Juiz de Fora.
The far-right presidential candidate is known for his belligerent attitudes towards violence and corruption as well as his sexist, homophobic and racist comments.
His followers honor him as the only solution to the violence and corruption that has plunged Brazil into a deep political, economic and social crisis.
However, Bolsonaro’s lack of economic knowledge and his proposals to appoint military personnel in various ministries, legalize possession of firearms and plans to set up militarized schools nationwide – which he said would improve the public education in Brazil through “discipline and hierarchy” – have been criticized by many of his opponents as a threat to democracy.
His verbal aggressions towards a PT congresswoman in 2003 to whom he said “I would never rape you, because you don’t deserve it,” statements affirming that women should receive less salary than men, wanting to end racial quotas in universities or the public rejection he has made of homosexuality, have also added thousands of opponents who resist being governed by someone who does not respect or promote fundamental rights.
Bolsonaro was born in 1955 in Glicerio, a municipality in the state of Sao Paulo, but he spent most of his childhood at the Preparatory School of Army Cadets in Campinas.
He continued his military career in Rio de Janeiro, where he served in the army’s parachutist units and obtained a degree in Physical Education. His superiors at the time described him as an “aggressive” person with “excessive ambition.”
He made a debut in politics at the end of the 80s when he publicly criticized the low salaries of the military, for which he earned a good number of supporters who would later help him reach his first public seat, despite being reprimanded by his military superiors.
Bolsonaro, then captain of the Army, joined the Army reserve in 1988 and was elected member of the Municipal Council of Rio de Janeiro in that same year.
He became a federal deputy for Rio de Janeiro four years later and served for seven consecutive terms until he announced his bid for the Brazilian presidency.
In the Congress, Bolsonaro was head of the Commission of Foreign Relations and National Defense, and of the Commission of Public Security and Combat against Organized Crime. He was also a substitute for the Human Rights and Minorities Commission of the Chamber of Deputies.
The far-right candidate for the Social Liberal Party (PSL) was also affiliated with eight other political parties during his 26 years of service, during which he submitted 162 bills, of which only two were approved.