The controversial right-wing presidential candidate nicknamed “Trump of the Tropics,” Jair Bolsonaro, easily won Brazil’s presidential election on Sunday, beating his Workers Party opponent Fernando Haddad by over ten points.
Bolsonaro, who has run on fighting government corruption and cracking down on crime, and whose populist and often incendiary rhetoric has brought comparisons to Trump’s presidential campaign, declared victory Sunday night. In his acceptance speech, he made clear again that his government would reject the failed socialist policies of the leftist regimes that ran the country for over a decade, before being ousted two years ago amid a crippling recession.
“We cannot continue flirting with communism,” the 63-year-old former army captain said in his acceptance speech, Reuters reports. “We are going to change the destiny of Brazil.”
Along with his rejection of socialist policies and condemnation of political corruption, Bolsonaro’s message has focused on cracking down on crime by empowering law enforcement and encouraging gun ownership for citizens to defend themselves.
Last month, Bolsonaro was stabbed by a protester in the middle of a crowd while campaigning and spent several weeks recovering from the life-threatening wound. The shocking moment was caught on video. Despite the violence that occasionally erupted over the course of the campaign, however, election day was reportedly calm and orderly.
After he secured the victory, Bolsonaro’s supporters took to the streets to celebrate. Reuters describes the scene outside Bolsonaro’s home in Rio de Janeiro:
Thousands of Bolsonaro supporters cheered and set off fireworks outside his home in Rio de Janeiro’s Barra de Tijuca beachfront neighborhood as his victory was announced. In Brazil’s commercial capital of Sao Paulo, Bolsonaro’s win was greeted with fireworks and the honking of car horns.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that President Trump called Bolsonaro to congratulate him and said they were looking forward to working “side-by-side” with each other as “regional leaders of the Americas.”
French President Emmanuel Macron also congratulated Bolsonaro. “The President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron congratulates Jair Bolsonaro, who was elected by the people of Brazil to become president of the federal republic of Brazil on Sunday, October 28,” Macron’s office said in a statement. “France and Brazil have a strategic partnership based around common values of respect and the promotion of democratic principles.”