Oct. 28 (UPI) -- Brazilian right-wing candidate Jair Bolsonaro defeated leftist Fernando Haddad to win the country's presidential election in a runoff Sunday.
Bolsonaro of the Social Liberal Party had 55 percent of the vote while Haddad, who took over for jailed ex-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva as the leftist Worker's Party candidate, had 44 percent with nearly 97 percent of the votes counted Sunday evening.
Polls the night before the election gave the Bolsonaro -- an ex-army captain and proponent of Brazil's former dictatorship -- an 8-10 percent lead over Haddad.
Bolsonaro won 46 percent of the vote and Haddad collected 28 percent in the country's general election earlier this month, forcing a runoff as no candidate won at least 50 percent of the vote.
"He thinks like the people think," Cristina Gozdal a 5-year-old systems analyst said of Bolsonaro.
Bolsonaro has run on a platform of "order and progress,"pledging to give police freedom to kill suspected criminals and also cut public debt by 20 percent.
His support of "family values" has won him supporters among evangelical Christians although sexist, racist and homophobic comments he's made, including advocating beating children to keep them from "turning gay" have drawn ire.
Despite his polarizing nature, Bolsonaro maintained a strong degree of support as many in the country seek to move away from the Worker's Party, which has ruled Brazil from 2003 to 2016 and has been blamed for leading the country into poverty and corruption.
Haddad, a university professor, has pledged to reduce Brazil's income equality through expansion of social welfare programs and income tax exemptions for the poor and has often met with Lula, who continues to play a leading role in the worker's party from prison.
The Worker's Party and Haddad had seen a wave of increased support leading up to the election as some fear Bolsonaro could set the country back in terms of gay and women's rights.
"We're in the middle of a tense conflict between voters and parties ... a moment of hope but also of doubt about Brazil," 19-year-old student Arthur Dias said.