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Nationwide elections held on October 7; avoid vicinity of political demonstrations

The nationwide elections, which cover the selection of the president, congressmen, senators and state governors, occurred without major incidents despite the strong polarization in the country, in particular over the presidential choice. Nevertheless, scuffles were reported between supporters and opponents of the two main frontrunners, Jair Bolsonaro (PSL) and Fernando Haddad (PT), and individuals were attacked based on their political affiliation or even the color of their clothes. While Bolsonaro secured 46% of the votes, Haddad came in second with 29.3%, A second round of presidential elections is slated for October 28.

The ongoing electoral process has been the most polarized since the re-democratization of Brazil in 1985, as there is a strong, mutual rejection of both candidates by large shares of society. Fernando Haddad, is accused of being a puppet of former President Luíz Inácio "Lula" da Silva, who is currently in jail on corruption charges and was the Workers' Party (PT) candidate until being barred by the electoral court. Over and above Haddad himself, many in Brazil perceive the Lula and the PT as masterminding the large-scale corruption cases that came to light while the party ruled from 2003-2016. In turn, Bolsonaro is a former army captain who has voiced support for the previous Brazilian dictatorship period and for torture, while also publicly making misogynistic and homophobic statements, yet many believe his aggressive stance will allow him to fight rampant criminality and tackle corruption. In the lead up to the second round, we assess that tensions and violence are likely to grow, particularly surrounding political demonstrations, but including localized targeting of individuals and groups based on their political inclinations. In Sao Paulo, protests are likely to take place in the city center along Paulista Avenue. In turn, demonstrations in Rio de Janeiro will likely be witnessed in the vicinity of Cinelandia (Floriano Peixoto) Square.

Those residing or operating in Brazil in the coming weeks are advised to avoid the vicinity of political demonstrations associated with the ongoing electoral procedures, due to the heightened potential for clashes. Refrain from heated political discussions in public.

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