Oct 8, 2018

Brazil’s presidential election cleaves along sharp ideological lines

Brazilian newsstand on October 8, 2018, the day after the first-round election. Photo: Evaristo Sa/AFP/Getty Images

On Sunday, October 7, Brazil’s controversial right-wing populist candidate Jair Bolsonaro won a convincing 46% plurality of the presidential vote and came close to achieving a first-round upset, followed by left-wing candidate and former mayor of Sao Paulo Fernando Haddad’s 29%.

Why it matters: The first-round results set up a stark ideological contrast for the October 28 runoff election, as the future of Brazil hangs in the balance. In addition to running one of the world’s top 10 economies, its next president will be an important interlocutor for the United States on global trade, the role of China in Latin America, and the political and humanitarian crisis in neighboring Venezuela.

Where it stands: Despite being hospitalized for several weeks due to serious stab wounds from a September 6 attack, Bolsonaro dramatically extended his lead in the polls in the final weeks of the campaign. However, the highly contested field of 13 presidential candidates denied him the 50% majority required for an outright victory. In the runoff he will face Haddad, a Worker’s Party loyalist who was only named as a candidate on September 11, after courts barred former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva from running. Moderate figures lost in the crowded race were former minister and ex-governor of Ceara state Ciro Gomes (12.5%), former governor of Sao Paulo state Geraldo Alckmin (4.8%), and business leader and political neophyte João Amoêdo (2.5%).

The backdrop: Brazil was once among the fastest-growing emerging markets, before entering a prolonged recession in 2014 that coincided with a sprawling corruption scandal known as “Operation Car Wash” that has ensnared dozens of officials and resulted in a 12-year prison sentence for Lula da Silva. Another former president, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached on unrelated charges in August 2016.

For the past two years, President Michel Temer, Rousseff's former vice president, has struggled with low approval ratings, corruption scandals, rising crime and violence, a weak economy and an inability to move key pension and fiscal reforms through congress. Brazil’s next president will face the challenge of restoring fiscal health and attracting foreign direct investment while improving security and cleaning up corruption.

What's next: The presidential runoff election will decide whether the government of Latin America's largest country will shift sharply to the right, and possibly become more allied with the Trump Administration, or to the left, as occurred in Mexico’s recent election. Either outcome will have enormous implications for U.S. relations with the region.

Daniel P. Erikson is managing director at Blue Star Strategies and a senior fellow at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement.

Go deeper

Making sense of the UN's climate conference coronavirus delay

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The scuttling of November's pivotal UN climate conference is the starkest sign yet of how coronavirus is throwing a wrench into efforts to combat global warming. But like the wider relationship between the coronavirus and climate initiatives, the ramifications are ... complicated.

Driving the news: UN officials announced Wednesday that the annual summit to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, is postponed until some unknown time next year.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 952,171 — Total deaths: 48,320 — Total recoveries: 202,541Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 216,722 — Total deaths: 5,137 — Total recoveries: 8,672Map.
  3. Stimulus updates: Social Security recipients won't need to file a tax return to receive their checks.
  4. Jobs update: 6.6 million people filed for unemployment last week, a staggering number that eclipses the record set on March 26.
  5. Health updates: The Trump administration won't reopen enrollment for ACA marketplaces this year.
  6. National updates: The Grand Canyon closed after a resident tested positive for coronavirus.
  7. World update: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu re-entered self-quarantine after his health minister tested positive for coronavirus.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

The weirdest NBA draft ever

Table: Axios Visuals

The 2020 NBA draft was already shaping up to be the weirdest draft in years, and now that the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the sports world, it could be the weirdest draft ever.

Why it matters: While most drafts have a clear hierarchy by the time April rolls around, this draft does not. There's no reliable No. 1 pick, almost every top-10 prospect has a glaring weakness and the global sports hiatus has shrouded the whole class in mystery.

Go deeperArrow51 mins ago - Sports