The election in Latin America’s largest economy follows the revelation of a huge political corruption scandal in Brazil, one of the largest corruption scandals in Latin American history.
Jair Bolosonaro is the unexpected frontrunner in the polls. He is a far-right former Army captain who has praised the country’s past military dictatorship and has insulted women and gay people, as well as the country’s black and indigenous populations. His views have earned him the nickname of “Tropical Trump,” a reference to the controversial U.S. president. He has also promised to crackdown on crime by loosening controls on Brazil’s already deadly police forces.
His closest competition is former Sao Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad, a stand-in for for the Workers’ Party imprisoned founder, former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Haddad had been da Silva’s running mate, but replaced da Silva after the former president abandoned efforts to appeal a court ruling barring him from running. Da Silva is serving a 12-year prison sentence for corruption.
“These are the strangest elections I’ve ever seen,” Monica de Bolle, director of Latin American Studies at Johns Hopkins University told the Associated Press. “It’s shaping up to be a contest between the two weakest candidates possible.”
A runoff vote will be held October 28 if neither candidate receives a majority of the vote.