No surprise in Brazil

The opinion polls, sad to say, were spot on in Brazil. With all but nine polling places reporting, official results show hard right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro an easy victor with 55.1%, against 44.9% for the centre-left’s Fernando Haddad. (See my preview here.)

Turnout was 78.7%, almost identical to 2014 (78.9%) and 2010 (78.5%). As Brazilian elections go, there was nothing really unusual about this one, except the nature of the winning candidate.

Like Donald Trump, Bolsonaro won with much the same sort of coalition that any right-of-centre candidate would have built. I’m going to keep saying this until people are thoroughly sick of it: the far right doesn’t win on the basis of its own support, it wins because (and when) centre-right voters vote for it.

Most Brazilians don’t consciously want to vote for fascism or even Trumpism. But those who wanted to vote against the left were presented with Bolsonaro as the alternative, so they took him. As in America two years ago, only a handful of centre-right leaders took their distaste for Bolsonaro to the point of endorsing his opponent.

The defence of civilisation against fascism is going to require as broad a coalition as we can muster. But the absolutely critical thing is that respectable, conservative, middle-class voters, and their political representatives, learn to recognise the extremists in their midst and make a stand against them.

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