Jair Bolsonaro: The would-be dictator who might soon rule Brazil

Jair Bolsonaro
Jair Bolsonaro. Photo credit: Getty

A far-right politician who once threatened to turn Brazil into a dictatorship looks likely to become the country's next President.

Jair Bolsonaro, 63, is well out in front in the first round of the country's presidential election. With 86 percent of the vote counted he has 48 percent - just short of an outright majority, so he'll have to face off against the second-place getter later this month in a one-on-one contest.

The prospect of Mr Bolsonaro as President has triggered widespread protests across the huge South American nation. Opposition party Partido dos Trabalhadores, or the Workers' Party, compared him to Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler in a campaign advert.

He's been called the "the most misogynistic, hateful elected official in the democratic world" by high-profile journalist Glenn Greenwald, and an "apologist of dictators" by The Economist.

Here are some of the more extreme things the former soldier has done and said to inspire such opposition.

He supports the country's dictatorship

Brazil was ruled by the military between 1964 and 1985, which cracked down on freedom of speech and political activities, and used torture against its enemies. Later investigations found at least 191 people were killed, hundreds more vanished, and more than 50,000 detained.

"I am in favour of a dictatorship," Mr Bolsonaro said a few years after democracy was restored, the New York Times reported.

"We will never resolve serious national problems with this irresponsible democracy."

Other times he has called it a "glorious" period in Brazil's history, saying the only mistake the dictatorship made was preferring torture over outright killing.

In 2015 during the impeachment proceedings for then-President Dilma Rousseff, Mr Bolsonaro praised the colonel who led a unit that tortured her in the 1970s.

In 1998 he praised Augusto Pinochet, the former dictator of Chile, saying the regime "should have killed more people".

In the 1990s he said if ever elected President, he would stage a military coup of his own "on the very first day".

"If he is the person who makes the decisions, who calls the shots, who laughs at the Congress, then start the coup at once, and let's make this a dictatorship," he told a local TV station.

He thinks gay children should be whipped until they're straight

"If I see two men kissing in the street, I will beat them," he told a newspaper in 2002. "If your child starts to become like that, a little gay, you take a whip and you change their behaviour."

In an interview with Playboy in 2011, he said he'd rather have a son "die in an accident" than turn out to be gay, because he would be "incapable" of loving a gay son.

In an interview for Vice News with actress Ellen Page that same year, he said "liberal habits" and working women have caused an increase in the number of gay people. Notably, Page is gay.

Mr Bolsonaro has at times played down his homophobia, saying it's to protect the children.

"They want to reach our children in order to turn the children into gay adults to satisfy their sexuality in the future. These are the fundamentalist homosexual groups that are trying to take over society," he told Stephen Fry in 2013. Fry is also gay.

"No father would ever take pride in having a gay son. Pride? Happiness? Celebration if it turns out his son is gay? No way."

In 2017 Mr Bolsonaro was fined under hate speech laws for saying he couldn't have a gay son because his children were educated.

He told a fellow politician she wasn't worth raping

In 2014, congresswoman Maria do Rosário was talking about a report that claimed the Brazilian dictatorship committed sexual abuses against female dissidents.

Her speech was followed by Mr Bolsonaro, who told her: "I would not rape you. You don't merit that."

He then went on Twitter to boast about his crude attack, saying he had put Ms do Rosário in her "proper place".

Mr Bolsonaro was convicted and fined over the comments.

He appears to support sterilisation of the poor

In 1993 he told congress, "I defend the death penalty and rigid birth control because I see violence and misery spreading more and more in this country. Who cannot have children should not have them."

In 2008 he said only birth control "can save us from chaos" when talking about people with poor education.

Jair Bolsonaro
Jair Bolsonaro. Photo credit: Getty

He admires politicians Donald Trump and Steve Bannon

"I like Trump's position... the only difference is that I'm richer!" Mr Bolsonaro told Vice News in 2016. "He's not politically correct, and that's why he's massacred by the left-wing media."

Like many Republican politicians in the US, Mr Bolsonaro wants to loosen gun laws and restore the death penalty.

Mr Bolsonaro's son, closely tied to his father's campaign, has tweeted favourably about Steve Bannon, the nationalist firebrand who helped Mr Trump get elected.

Mr Bolsonaro has, like Mr Trump, spoken disparagingly of poor countries.

He has accused Haitian immigrants of bringing diseases into Brazil and called Syrian refugees "the scum of the world".

Mr Bolsonaro has also spoken out against abortion, affirmative action, secularism, people of colour and drug liberalisation.

He's anti-women

Father of five Mr Bolsonaro said his fifth child - his first girl - was the result of a "moment of weakness".

In 2015, he said women shouldn't be paid the same as men because they get pregnant.