Brazil’s far-right Bol­sonaro grows lead with run-off vic­tory in sight

Stabroek News Sunday - - WORLD NEWS -

BRASILIA/SAO PAULO, (Reuters) - Brazil’s far-right pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Jair Bol­sonaro has widened his lead over left­ist Fer­nando Had­dad ahead of to­day’s deeply po­larised elec­tion, and would win a likely sec­ond-round run-off later this month, a CNT/MDA poll showed yes­ter­day.

With more polls due later yes­ter­day, the CNT/MDA sur­vey cap­tured a pal­pa­ble surge in Bol­sonaro’s sup­port in re­cent days that could, if it con­tin­ues, see him win a ma­jor­ity of votes to­day, and avoid the Oct. 28 run-off.

Bol­sonaro’s sup­port grew to 36.7 per­cent from 28.2 per­cent in the pre­vi­ous late-Septem­ber poll, while his main ri­val, sec­ond-placed Work­ers Party can­di­date Had­dad, slipped to 24.0 per­cent from 25.2 per­cent.

But per­haps more tellingly, Bol­sonaro’s share of valid votes shot up to 42.6 per­cent from 35.3 per­cent, putting him tan­ta­lis­ingly close to Brazil’s first ini­tial-round elec­toral vic­tory since 1998. Had­dad’s share of valid votes fell from 31.5 per­cent to 27.8 per­cent.

Bol­sonaro, who has surged on wide­spread anger over ris­ing crime, a drift­ing econ­omy and the prospect of the di­vi­sive Work­ers Party re­turn­ing to power, was also seen beat­ing all his pos­si­ble ri­vals in the sec­ond-round run-off.

The 63-year-old for­mer army cap­tain, who is still re­cov­er­ing from a se­ri­ous stab wound re­ceived dur­ing the cam­paign, en­joys pas­sion­ate sup­port thanks to grass­roots or­gan­is­ing on so­cial me­dia, but ter­ri­fies crit­ics who la­bel him a “Trop­i­cal Hitler.”

He vows to loosen gun laws so cit­i­zens can de­fend them­selves, pro­tect fam­ily val­ues and slug it out with pow­er­ful drug gangs re­spon­si­ble for a record 64,000 mur­ders in 2017.

On Fri­day, Bol­sonaro ap­pealed to Brazil­ians to vote for him in a live Face­book feed from his Rio de Janeiro home, ask­ing them to give him a ma­jor­ity to avoid a sec­ond vote.

Had­dad’s sup­port re­lies on the pop­u­lar­ity of his men­tor, jailed for­mer pres­i­dent Luiz Ina­cio Lula da Silva, who was barred from run­ning due to a cor­rup­tion con­vic­tion.

Had­dad yes­ter­day cam­paigned in the north­east­ern state of Bahia, Lula’s po­lit­i­cal heart­land, where the 55-year-old recorded a video mes­sage along­side the state’s Work­ers Party Gov­er­nor Rui Costa, urg­ing his sup­port­ers to be wary of the po­lit­i­cal mes­sages they re­ceive via so­cial me­dia.

“A lot of lies on the in­ter­net,” he said. “The other side is a bit des­per­ate, be­cause they think that if Bol­sonaro is forced to de­bate, he will melt. So they want Bol­sonaro to win with­out hav­ing to de­bate, which is bad for democ­racy.”

Bol­sonaro was due to ad­dress sup­port­ers via a Face­book Live later yes­ter­day.

About 26 per­cent of vot­ers say they have yet to de­cide who to vote for, ac­cord­ing to a Datafolha poll re­leased on Thurs­day.

“We will ac­cept the re­sult what­ever it is, there should be no doubt of that,” Bol­sonaro said on Fri­day, in a bid to calm fears he would call for a mil­i­tary coup if he lost.

Bol­sonaro, who is backed by a group of re­tired gen­er­als, said last week he would only ac­cept vic­tory.

A Bol­sonaro govern­ment would speed up the pri­vati­sa­tion of state com­pa­nies to re­duce Brazil’s bud­get deficit and re­lax en­vi­ron­men­tal con­trols for farm­ing and min­ing. It would also block ef­forts to le­galise abor­tion, drugs and gay mar­riage.

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