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Far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro wins Brazilian presidential elections

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By Euronews
Supporters of Jair Bolsonaro react after Bolsonaro wins the presidential ra
Supporters of Jair Bolsonaro react after Bolsonaro wins the presidential ra   -   Copyright  REUTERS/Nacho Doce

It's a new era in Brazil — Jair Bolsonaro's era. The firebrand right-wing politician swept to power in the world's fourth largest democracy on Sunday night, defeating ruling party candidate Fernando Haddad. He took over 55 per cent of the vote to Haddad's 49 per cent.

He's got a reputation for controversial comments about women, government, and crime - he once told a female colleague he wouldn't rape her because she "wasn't worthy of it" - but Bolsonaro toned down the rhetoric for his victory speech. He sounded stern and serious as he told the nation he would defend "the constitution, democracy and freedom."

"This country belongs to all of us," he said.

"To Brazilians born here or those who feel like that in their hearts. A Brazil with many different opinions, colors and orientations. As a defender of freedom, I will lead a goverment that defends and protects the rights of citizens, who fulfils its duties and respects the law. Laws are for everybody. That is how our Government is going to work — in a constitutional and democratic way."

As stunned supporters looked on and Bolsonaro supporters partied in the streets, Fernando Haddad vowed to continue the resistance.

"We have an enormous task in this country," he said. "And that is, in the name of democracy, to defend the freedom of thought and to defend the freedom of those 45 million of Brazilians who followed us until now."

"Bolsonaro, you'll see us in the streets," his supporters chanted after he spoke. And they already were — the streets of Sao Paolo saw emotions running high as supporters of each party screamed and spat at each other.

"This is surreal," one woman sobbed, wearing the red shirt of Fernando Haddad's party.

The fear comes from Bolsonaro's policies — he's pro gun, has praised Brazil's military dictatorship, and rails against crime in the streets. Just days before the election, he promised to bring the army out in the streets to fight crime and described the country as being, "at war."

He also prompted a campaign of women united against him under the slogan "Not Him!" after comments about women's rights.

"Because women get more labor rights than men, meaning they get maternity leave, the employer prefers to hire men," he said in 2016. "I would not employ (a woman) with the same salary (of a man). But there are many women who are competent."

But polls found that Brazilian women were just as likely to vote Bolsonaro as Brazilian men — and in the end, the pre-elections polls proved accurate.