After his first-round victory, Jair Bolsonaro tries to allay fears that Brazil could lurch back towards dictatorship under his command
Brazil needs to be ruled with authority but without authoritarianism, the far-right frontrunner to become its next president has declared in an apparent attempt to allay fears of the tyrannical tack many fear Latin Americas largest democracy could take under his command.
In his first television interview since his emphatic first-round victory on Sunday, Jair Bolsonaro, 63, vowed to pacify and unite the Brazilian people under the green and yellow flag.
As president, his priorities would be opening Brazil to the world and hitting crime hard so Brazilian women feel protected.
This is how we intend to govern and build the future of our marvellous country, the former army captain told Brazils Globo network.
During his 27 years in politics, Bolsonaro has repeatedly praised Brazils 1964-1985 military regime, and dictators such as Chiles Augusto Pinochet and Perus Alberto Fujimori. His vice-presidential candidate, Hamilton Mouro, is a retired general who last year hinted Brazils military leaders had pondered overthrowing the government.
Bolsonaros apparent affinity for authoritarians has fuelled fears Brazil could lurch back towards dictatorship under his leadership something he denied on Monday.
If we are competing in elections its because we believe in the popular vote and will be slaves to our constitution, Bolsonaro insisted, adding: What we need is a government with authority but without authoritarianism.
Interviewed on the same program, Bolsonaros second-round rival, the Workers party (PT) candidate, Fernando Haddad, positioned himself as a social democrat who wanted development for the many, not the few.
Alluding to concerns over Bolsonaros fondness for dictatorship, the leftist warned: The future of the country is at stake. The future of democracy is at stake. The future of your social rights and workers rights is at stake.
But Haddad whose election manifesto called for the creation of a constituent assembly also faced questions over the PTs own commitment to democracy after a former PT heavyweight proclaimed it was only a matter of time before the party took power, which is different to winning an election. For me, democracy always comes first, Haddad replied.
Bolsonaro and Haddad will face off on 28 October in a winner-takes-all showdown with first-round results suggesting the PT candidate has a mountain to climb.
His most convincing victory was in the southern state of Santa Catarina where 65.82% of voters backed him. But Bolsonaro also triumphed in the key south-eastern states of Rio de Janeiro (59.79%), Minas Gerais (48.31%) and So Paulo (53%) Brazils three biggest electoral prizes with a combined total of 60 million voters.
Bolsonaro who has pledged to scrap Brazils environment ministry, open indigenous reserves to mining and ditch the Paris climate accord also prevailed in the Amazon states of Roraima, Acre and Rondnia, with more than 62%, and in Mato Grosso, with 60%.
During a visit to the Amazon region in April, Bolsonaro praised Donald Trumps approval of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines (No messing around with the environment or the indigenous. Problem sorted!) and told the Guardian he would take similar steps and target environmental groups operating in Brazil.
This cowardly business of international NGOs like WWF and so many others from England sticking their noses into Brazil is going to end! This tomfoolery stops right here! Bolsonaro said. Were in Brazil here: Great Brazil just like the Great America of our dear Trump.
Haddad, who received 31m votes, dominated Brazils less developed north-east with more than 60% of votes in the states of Maranho, Bahia and Piau.