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A Guide to 2018 Latin American Elections: Brazil



On October 7, 2018, more than 147 million people were eligible to vote for executive and legislative branches at the state and federal levels, casting ballots for president, 27 governors, 54 senators (two-thirds of the Senate), 513 federal deputies, and 1,059 state deputies.

In an October 28 runoff, far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro won 55 percent of the vote against 45 percent for the left's Fernando Haddad. In a sign of voter dissatisfaction, the runoff involved the largest abstention rate in 20 years. In total, 42 million people didn't choose any of the candidates and over 31 million people decided not to show up at the polls at all.

Pitching himself as the answer to violence and corruption, Bolsonaro's victory has drawn human rights concerns due to his use of bigoted language and nostalgia for the period of military rule. Aside from marking a hard shift to the right, his win also saw a departure from what's been traditional in Brazilian politics since the start of the country's democratic era: he did not win through coalitions with larger parties or television time, but with the help of social media and fake news.

Bolsonaro will be inaugurated on January 1, 2019. 

>> Find out about other elections in our main 2018 Election Guide.

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro

Tracking the First 100 Days of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro

April 11, 2019

AS/COA Online offers regular updates on the course charted by the new administration in Latin America’s largest country.

Explainer: Bolsonaro, Brazil, and the Environment

November 19, 2018

Is Brazil’s environment in danger under Jair Bolsonaro?

A man checks his smartphone in São Paulo. (AP)

LatAm in Focus: Fact-Checking Brazil's Misinformation Crisis

November 07, 2018

Aos Fatos’ Tai Nalon explains how the country’s 2018 elections proved a new, complex relationship between voters, news, and government.

Video: Political and Economic Outlook for Brazil

November 01, 2018

Experts discussed the next steps for President-elect Jair Bolsonaro and how his first measures can affect the country's economy.

Jair Bolsonaro won Brazil's presidential runoff. (AP)

LatAm in Focus: What a Bolsonaro Win Means for Brazil's Economy

October 29, 2018

Listen: J.P. Morgan’s Emy Shayo discusses the country’s main economic woes and the policies proposed by the president-elect’s pick for finance minister, Paulo Guedes. 

Jair Bolsonaro (AP)

Trumpism Comes to Brazil

October 28, 2018

AS/COA’s Brian Winter and Roberto Simon explain in Foreign Affairs what makes Jair Bolsonaro’s foreign agenda similar to Donald Trump’s.

Poll Tracker: Brazil's Presidential Election

Poll Tracker: Brazil's 2018 Presidential Election

October 28, 2018

Jair Bolsanaro and Fernando Haddad face each other in an October 28 runoff. Here's what the polls say. 

Supporters of Bolsonaro at a rally. (AP)

Brazil Election: Where Jair Bolsonaro and Fernando Haddad Stand on Foreign Policy

October 18, 2018

Ahead of the October 28 runoff, we look at the presidential candidates’ positions on issues ranging from Venezuela to trade.

What to Expect from Jair Bolsonaro

October 09, 2018

A comprehensive survey of what the former army captain’s government might look like, if he wins on Oct 28.

Four Charts on Brazil's First-Round Election

Four Charts on Brazil's First-Round Election

October 12, 2018

We look at the history of presidential runoffs, break down the vote regionally, and map the gubernatorial races still to be decided in October 28 runoffs.

Meet the New Brazil. A Lot Like the Old Brazil.

October 04, 2018

History helps explain Jair Bolsonaro’s surge to the cusp of the presidency, writes AQ’s editor-in-chief.

#EleNão activists take a selfie. (AP)

Brazil's Elections: Social Media and the Gender Divide

October 03, 2018

Social media is driving the conversation—and a wedge between genders—in this year's presidential vote.

Brazil election

Brazil Election: It's Bolsonaro vs. Haddad in the Presidential Runoff

October 07, 2018

Brazil's far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro was less than 5 points away from winning the first round. He'll face Fernando Haddad, the left's stand-in for ex-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, on October 28. 

Jair Bolsonaro (AP)

Oposição a Bolsonaro repete erros dos EUA

September 29, 2018

Brian Winter, da AS/COA, escreve na Folha de São Paulo sobre os temas que interessam aos eleitores brasileiros e que podem persuadi-los a não votar em Jair Bolsonaro.

Brazilian candidates Fernando Haddd and Jair Bolsonaro.

LatAm in Focus: Who Will Win Brazil's Nostalgia Vote?

September 20, 2018

Listen: AS/COA Brazil experts Brian Winter and Roberto Simon cover the race and why leading candidates Jair Bolsonaro and Fernando Haddad represent competing visions of a “better” past.

Brazilian presidential candidates: Bolsonaro, Haddad, Silva, Alckmin, Gomes.

Explainer: A Who's Who in Brazil's 2018 Presidential Election Race

August 23, 2018

Ahead of the October 7 first round, meet the contenders in Brazil’s unpredictable race.

A Brazilian reads on a sidewalk littered with campaign propoganda. (AP)

Brazil's Gubernatorial and Legislative Races-and What Worries Voters Most

September 28, 2018

On October 7, Brazilians will elect 27 governors and 567 members of Congress. We look at those competitions and top voter issues. 

Podcast: Can Anyone Fix Brazil's Economy?

September 06, 2018

Economist Monica de Bolle discusses the prospects of a fiscal turnaround under Brazil's next president on this episode of "Deep South."

Video: Expert Update on Brazil

July 25, 2018

Panelists discussed top issues ahead of the country's October elections, as well as each presidential candidate's economic platform.

Header graphic for Brazil 2018 elections calendar

Timeline: Brazil's 2018 Elections

May 22, 2018

Given the tempestuous nature of Brazilian politics in recent years, here are dates to help bring clarity as we approach the October 7 elections.

It’s a Lula Election in Brazil. Again.

July 16, 2018

The imprisoned former president will be center stage in the Oct. 7 election – even if he’s not a candidate.

AQ INTERVIEW: Ciro Gomes: “Brazil Cannot Endure a Leftist Government”

June 21, 2018

A leading candidate for president sounds off on his rivals – and friends.

Brazil poll update

Poll Update: Brazil's Uncertain Presidential Race

June 14, 2018

With four months to go until election day, a Datafolha poll shows a jailed ex-president ahead. What happens if he can’t run remains in doubt. 

Vídeo: Renovação Política e Novas Lideranças no Brasil

May 16, 2018

Candidatos bolsistas da RenovaBR falaram das dificuldades do sistema político atual e como se preparam para renovar a política brasileira.

Chart: The Millennial Vote in Latin America's Big Three Elections

Chart: The Millennial Vote in Latin America's Big Three Elections

May 04, 2018

How significant is the under-35 electorate in Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico? 

Brazil 2018: The “Chuchu Popsicle” Makes His Case

March 21, 2018

Geraldo Alckmin is the preferred candidate of Brazil’s establishment. In today’s environment, that may be a kiss of death.

Onshore oil rig

Viewpoint: Elections Shouldn't Stymie Mexico's and Brazil's Energy Sectors

April 12, 2018

Energy reforms take time to bear fruit and protectionist election pledges would lead to backstepping, writes AS/COA’s Naki Mendoza.

A voter steps on election flyers in Brazil 2017

Explainer: Brazil's Political Parties to Watch in 2018

October 06, 2017

Given voter disillusionment with traditional politics, the country’s parties are rebranding to rebuild their influence. A year before general elections, we profile the parties. 

System Failure: Behind the Rise of Jair Bolsonaro

January 22, 2018

How a retired Army captain rose from a marginal apologist for torture and dictatorship to a serious contender for Brazil’s presidency.

A voter in Chihuahua, Mexico. (AP)

LatAm in Focus: From Elections to Trade, Latin America's Big 2018 Stories

January 11, 2018

If 2017 was the year that changed Washington, 2018 will redefine Latin America. AS/COA experts explain how in our first podcast of the year.

2018 Latin American elections flags

A Timeline of 2017 and 2018 Elections in Latin America

November 16, 2017

Latin Americans will vote for nine new presidents in two years, along with more than 2,900 legislators.

Geraldo Alckmin and President Michel Temer

LatAm in Focus: Brazil's Economic Gains amid Political Crisis

June 29, 2017

Listen: Prospectiva Consulting’s Ricardo Sennes explains how the country’s economy is moving forward and what a presidential candidate will need to do to win the 2018 election.