In a contest that was close to the very end on Sunday, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was chosen to be the next president of Brazil.

After four years of Jair Bolsonaro’s far-right government, the 76-year-old politician’s victory signifies the left’s swift return to power in Brazil and an abrupt about-turn for the largest nation in Latin America.

Who is Jair Bolsonaro?

Jair Messias Bolsonaro, born on March 21, 1955, in Campinas, Brazil. He is a Brazilian politician who was elected president of Brazil in October 2018.

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Bolsonaro, a former army captain and right-wing nationalist who supported law and order and voiced support for the military government that ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985, was elected president on a populist anti-establishment wave sparked by the massive Petrobras scandal that had tarnished much of the nation’s political class.

Bolsonaro was raised in Eldorado, a town of about 15,000 people in the Atlantic rainforest of Brazil, where his father worked as a prosthodontist after being forced to switch from practising dentistry due to the entrance of licenced dentists. Bolsonaro, the third child of three daughters and three sons, attended the Brazilian Army’s Preparatory School before earning his degree from the Agulhas Negras Military Academy in 1977.

After that, he spent about 17 years in the army, including time spent as a paratrooper, and attained the rank of captain. When Bolsonaro criticised the military’s pay structure in an essay for the well-known magazine Veja in 1986, he became well-known. Bolsonaro’s public position drew criticism from his superiors, but praise from his fellow officers and military families.

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Bolsonaro was chosen to serve on the Rio de Janeiro city council in 1989 after quitting the army in 1988. Two years later, he was elected to the federal Chamber of Deputies of Brazil, where he served as Rio de Janeiro’s representative for seven successive terms.

Bolsanaro has frequently hailed and demanded the return of the military era from the beginning of his first term. He also developed a reputation for vehemently defending extremely conservative social beliefs, and his detractors labelled him as misogynistic, homophobic, and racist.

His statements that he “would be incapable of loving a homosexual son” and that he would rather his son die in an accident rather than “show up with a moustachioed man” were just two of the many contentious statements he made over the years.

Bolsonaro said, “I wouldn’t rape you because you don’t deserve it,” in response to a female deputy who dubbed him a rapist. Later, after claiming he wasn’t a rapist, he added that even if he were, the congresswoman in issue was “not his type,” therefore he wouldn’t rape her.

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Bolsonaro remarked regarding the offspring of the runaway African slaves who founded the quilombo settlements, “They do nothing! They are not even good for procreation.”

Such inflammatory remarks led Bolsonaro to become associated with the fringes of politics and perceived as an extremist. Thus, over his long term in the Chamber of Deputies, he was only able to write a small amount of effective legislation.

He was the chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations and National Defense anyway. Additionally, he served as an alternate member of the Committee on Public Security and Combating Organized Crime and a member of the Commission on Human and Minority Rights.