Brazil Barrels into Presidential Runoff as the Far-Right Flexes Its Staying Power

By Travis Waldron

"The center in Brazil did not hold. The center is almost gone," said AS/COA's Brian Winter to HuffPost.

Despite a stronger-than-expected showing in the first round of Brazil’s presidential election Sunday, far-right President Jair Bolsonaro will enter the race’s runoff stage as an underdog against leftist candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Da Silva, a former president who led Brazil from 2003 to 2010, won 6 million more votes than Bolsonaro ― the best performance for a Brazilian challenger since the country’s return to democracy four decades ago. And although supporters of da Silva and his leftist Workers’ Party were dismayed that he fell short of an outright win this weekend, he has a clearer and easier path to victory in the head-to-head matchup slated for Oct. 30.

Results from other races across the country, however, suggested that the right-wing, nationalistic movement Bolsonaro embodies will likely remain a significant force in Brazilian politics, and left the country reckoning with a lesson the United States learned after former President Donald Trump’s defeat in 2020: Beating a far-right figurehead won’t be enough to vanquish the far-right in its entirety. […]

“These races tell us that there is a big part of the population that… really does like the Bolsonarista brand of conservatism,” said Brian Winter, the editor-in-chief of Americas Quarterly and vice president for policy at the Americas Society/Council of the Americas. “It’s not just that these were binary choices. These were voters who were brought a whole menu of options, pointed to the most Bolsonaro-aligned candidates, and said, ‘That’s what I want.’”…

“The center in Brazil did not hold,” Winter said. “The center is almost gone.”…

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