With 92 percent of ballots counted by Sunday evening, Bolsonaro, with Brazil’s Social Liberal Party (PSL), has garnered 49 million votes – 46 percent of the total – and will have to face his opponent Fernando Haddad in a second round vote slated for October 28.
The leftist Workers’ Party (PT) candidate, Haddad, won 28 percent of the vote, according to Brazil’s superior electoral court, the TSE. Behind him came the Democratic Labor Party’s Ciro Gomes with 12.5 percent.
Followers of Bolsonaro, former congressman and military officer, gathered outside his beach-side home in western Rio de Janeiro on Sunday evening to celebrate the result with fireworks and barbecue.
“Jair Bolsonaro is hope for the Brazilian people,” said a supporter, while another was shouting, “Bolsonaro is a legend.”
The 63-year-old, however, was not present to celebrate the victory along with his supporters due to health conditions, but addressed them in a live speech on Facebook and later uploaded it onto Twitter when the results were announced.
He underwent an emergency surgery last month after being stabbed by an assailant as he was carried aloft by supporters during a street rally.
Bolsonaro, dubbed Trump of the Tropics, due to his far-right policies, claimed he was certain that if there had not been “problems” with the electronic voting system, he would have won outright. But he did not clarify what the problems were.
The electoral authorities, however, said the vote went ahead peacefully and without any major problems.
Meanwhile, Haddad, the former mayor of Sao Paulo addressed his supporters in the city, hinting at some kind of alliance with three of the other candidates Marina Silva, Ciro Gomes and Guilherme Boulos for the second round.
He said that he had already spoken to them and hopes they can “keep an open dialog, because Brazil deserves our mutual understanding so it can be guided into a generous path.”
In order to draw level with Bolsonaro, Haddad would need virtually every single one of the voters who opted for the third and fourth-placed candidates, Ciro Gomes and Geraldo Alckmin, to switch to his side.
Referring to his far-right opponent, Haddad also said that he felt “challenged by the results, which alerts us to the risks Brazilian democracy is facing.”