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Update: Brazilian voters advance Bolsonaro, Haddad to presidential runoff


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Update: Brazilian voters advance Bolsonaro, Haddad to presidential runoff

Jair Bolsonaro, the right-wing congressman of the Social Liberal Party, and the leftist Workers' Party candidate Fernando Haddad will face off in a runoff vote for Brazil's presidency after gaining the most votes in the country's general election Oct. 7.

Bolsonaro garnered just over 46% of the vote, according to official results from Brazil's Superior Electoral Court, while Haddad gained over 29%. The runoff vote is set for Oct. 28.

Other candidates in the crowded presidential race included Ciro Gomes of the Democratic Labor Party, who took more than 12% of the vote; Geraldo Alckmin of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party, who had under 5%; and Marina Silva of the Sustainability Network, who got 1%.

The results set the stage for a runoff election of polar opposites, with Bolsonaro and Haddad having been described as representing the ideological extremes of Brazilian politics.

Bolsonaro, whose Social Liberal Party represents less than 2% of the lower house of Brazil's congress, has promised to privatize Brazil's state-owned companies, reduce the number of government ministries and drastically simplify the tax system.

Haddad, who served as education minister under now-jailed former President Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva and replaced him on the ballot in September, has proposed launching an emergency employment program and increasing public infrastructure spending by taking 10% of the central bank's foreign reserves as well as funds from public banks.

The election comes as Brazil continues to recover from its worst recession in modern history. GDP growth in the country has returned, though expectations for 2018 have repeatedly been revised downward, from 3.0% at the beginning of the year to 1.35% currently, according to the latest market survey by the Banco Central do Brasil.

Brazil is also battling ongoing fiscal issues. The country's primary public sector deficit hit 16.9 billion reais in August, bringing the 12-month rolling total to 84.4 billion reais, according to central bank data. Annual interest expenses on Brazil's total debt alone amount to 418.5 billion reais, or about 6.20% of GDP, with gross general government debt now at 5.224 trillion reais, or 77.3% of GDP.

As of Oct. 5, US$1 was equivalent to 3.87 Brazilian reais.