He took around 55 percent of the vote, and his victory in a country of 210 million people will have a huge impact. It is also another sign of the rise of the global far right that has to be resisted everywhere.
His election marks a brutal turn in Brazilian politics. Bolsonaro is a front man for the sort of forces involved in the murderous military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985.
On Saturday Charlione Lessa Albuquerque was shot dead, allegedly by a Bolsonaro supporter, while attending a rally in support of the Workers’ Party (PT) candidate Fernando Haddad.
Throughout his election campaign Bolsonaro has used vile language to refer to minority and oppressed groups. He has backed the use of violence by the murderous Brazilian cops. Between January and July this year, in just one state—Rio de Janeiro—cops killed 895 people.
He has described himself as “homophobic—and very proud of it”. LGBT+ groups described his victory as “opening the gates of hell”.
“Bolsonaro means everything that is bad,” PT member Cleusa told Socialist Worker. She was attending a protest outside the Brazilian embassy in central London on Saturday night.
“He has said that the citizens he deems to be ‘good’ will be allowed to carry guns. The ‘bad’ ones are the people who live in favelas [poor areas] and are black.
“He has said women shouldn’t earn the same as men.”
Cristina argued, “After Sunday, Brazil will not be the same. The fascists there will wake up.”
Earlier in the election campaign a women had a swastika carved into her body by a Nazi.
Bolsonaro’s lead narrowed after a particularly vicious speech he gave last week in which he threatened to arrest left wingers if they did not leave the country after the election.
This led prominent figures in Brazilian society to publicly back Haddad. In the end this had little effect.
Bolsonaro capitalised on an attack on him during the election campaign, during which he was stabbed. This allowed him to present as a law and order martyr.
To attribute his victory just to this would be a mistake—there are more deep-rooted reasons.
Big business has warmed to his success. Since he moved ahead in the first round of the election three weeks ago one Brazilian stock market index has soared 18 percent while global indexes have fallen.
A large part of the blame for Bolsonaro’s election win lies with the PT.
Its credibility was destroyed by its record of 13 years in office. Huge corruption by PT officials involving the allocation of contracts for the state-owned oil company Petrobras has undermined the party’s support.
This meant Bolsonaro was able to pose as an anti-corruption crusader - while allying with corrupt elements in Brazilian society,
The corruption scandal of the PT, including jailed former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (Lula) soured the party’s image for millions. On top of the corruption, Lula’s successor Dilma Rousseff heaped the price of the economic crisis on the backs of ordinary Brazilians.
“In Lula’s day the whole favela was PT,” said Haroldo Carrilho. “They abandoned us.”
Bolsonaro’s main support base lies in the richer southern states of Brazil such as Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. A new middle class, who have seen their standard of living attacked, particularly after the commodities crisis of 2015 onwards, see him as a fighter for their interests.
The new government will be a government for the rich. Bolsonaro as surrounded himself with economic advisers such as Paulo Guedes, who wants to privatise 147 state-owned businesses as well as introduce a flat-rate 20 percent income tax.
“I lived through the dictatorship and we don’t want to go back to that. It’s dangerous,” said Lima. “I know what dictatorship means. It means torture, do you know what I’m saying?”
There will be resistance to Bolsonaro. The military dictatorship was eventually beaten by mass workers’ resistance and strikes.
There are powerful women’s and LGBT+groups and social movements.
The resistance to Bolsonaro and the far right he has emboldened must start today.