October 8, 2018 / 9:04 AM / 14 days ago

Brazil's far-right presidential candidate works on a coalition

RIO DE JANEIRO, Oct 8 (Reuters) - The main political adviser to Brazil’s far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro said he will work Monday to stitch together alliances with individual lawmakers to ensure a runoff victory for the former Army captain.

Congressman Onyx Lorenzoni said he was making good on Bolsonaro’s campaign pledge to end a system of horse-trading between party leaders in Brazilian politics, blamed for endemic corruption as past leaders wielded vast patronage in exchange for legislative support.

Lorenzoni said Bolsonaro’s team was targeting individual lawmakers in parties opposed to the Workers Party (PT) and its presidential candidate Fernando Haddad - including those in parties whose leaders do not yet support the right-winger.

Bolsonaro nearly won the presidency in Sunday’s first-round vote, taking 46 percent of votes against Haddad’s 29 percent. A runoff is required under Brazilian law if no candidate wins a majority. The second ballot is on Oct. 28.

“We’ll speak with anybody who wishes to talk with us now, which is interesting because many of them did not want to have a dialogue with us before the first-round vote,” Lorenzoni said.

He expressed confidence that Bolsonaro would easily win the presidency later this month, saying that many who voted for other candidates on Sunday want to block the PT, which held the presidency from 2003 to 2016, from returning to power.

Bolsonaro’s popularity has surged as Brazilians, exasperated with a political system that orchestrated what prosecutors call the world’s largest political graft schemes, see him as the best hope to destroy corruption-riddled traditional politics.

But Bolsonaro’s fiery anti-democratic rhetoric of the past, his stance that Brazil’s already notoriously violent police should kill as many criminals as possible, and his desire to rollback progressives’ gains in recent years have enraged a large number of voters.

Should Bolsonaro win, he will have a far easier time than imagined pushing his socially conservative and free-market economic reform policies through Congress.

Brazil’s next Congress was also elected on Sunday, and in a seismic shift, Bolsonaro’s once-tiny Social Liberal Party (PSL) was poised to become the second-largest force in the body.

Reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier in Rio de Janeiro Additional reporting and writing by Brad Brooks in Sao Paulo Editing by Darren Schuettler

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