RIO DE JANEIRO – The near outright victory of far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil’s presidential race shocked many observers who believed the former army captain was too fringe to attract widespread support. But Bolsonaro’s strong showing in Sunday’s first round of voting was only one of many surprises to come out elections in Latin America’s largest nation. A look at some of the others:
Bolsonaro’s Social and Liberal Party, which the candidate just joined this year, took 52 seats in the lower Chamber of Deputies in Congress, up from just one in the last election. The surge gave the party 10 percent representation in the chamber, making it the second largest party after the Workers’ Party, which won presidential elections in 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014. State-level candidates supported by Bolsonaro also got major boosts. For example, in the Rio de Janeiro governor’s race, Wilson Witzel, a relative unknown just weeks ago, got the most votes in the first round, ahead of former Rio mayor Eduardo Paes and football legend Romario.
For the first time since 1982, an indigenous person was elected to Congress. Joena Wapichana, a lawyer from the northern state of Roraima, was elected on promises to push for more lands to be given to indigenous tribes and to protect the environment. The last indigenous person elected was Mario Juruna, who won a seat in 1982 from Rio de Janeiro to much fanfare. Juruna failed to be re-elected in 1986 and since then Congress has not any indigenous representatives.
Erica Malunghinho, a 36-year-old transgender woman, became Brazil’s first transgender to be elected a state representative. The history and art teacher from the leftist Socialism and Liberty Party won a seat in Sao Paulo. Hailing from the northeastern state of Pernambuco, Malunghinho, who is black, ran on a platform of promoting tourism in indigenous areas to combat poverty and racism. She also promised to work toward helping transgender people, often discriminated against, find employment.
GOODBYE HOUSEHOLD NAMES
Sen. Romero Juca, who has been in the senate since the mid-1990s, failed to get re-elected, one of the biggest names who will be exiting the national scene. Considered a long-time power broker, in 2016 a recording came to light purportedly capturing him discussing a pact to stem the massive “Car Wash” corruption probe that had engulfed many of the political class. Deltan Dallagnol, a prosecutor who heads the “Car Wash” task force, on Monday tweeted the names of dozens of elected officials who were accused of corruption and did not get re-elected. “A list of victims of the flames” of the investigations, he wrote.
Ex-President Dilma Rousseff, ousted from presidency in 2016, was trying to make a political comeback as a senator. However, she failed to get re-elected, coming in a distant fourth.