A far-right former army captain who expresses nostalgia for Brazil's military dictatorship won the first round of its presidential election by a surprisingly large margin Sunday, but fell just short of getting enough votes to avoid a second-round runoff against a leftist rival. Jair Bolsonaro, whose last-minute surge almost gave him an electoral stunner, had 46.7% compared to 28.5% for former Sao Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad, Brazil's Superior Electoral Tribunal said after all the votes were counted. He needed over 50% support to win outright. Polls predicted Bolsonaro, nicknamed "Brazil's Trump," would come out in front on Sunday, but he far outperformed expectations, blazing past competitors with more financing, institutional backing of parties, and free air time on television, the AP reports.
Despite the sizable victory, polls show the two candidates are neck-and-neck for the Oct. 28 runoff, and much could shift in the coming weeks. Bolsonaro, from the tiny Social and Liberal Party, made savvy use of Twitter and Facebook to spread his message that only he could end the corruption, crime, and economic malaise that has seized Brazil in recent years—and bring back the good old days and traditional values. Bolsonaro's poll numbers jumped after he was stabbed during a campaign event on Sept. 6. He was unable to campaign or participate in debates as he underwent surgeries during a three-week hospital stay, but instead brought messages directly to voters via social media.