Bolsonaro poised to win Brazil presidency
Late poll shows right-wing candidate leading 55-45 against leftist rival
Brazilians fed up with corruption and rising crime are expected to elect former army-captain-turned-politician Jair Bolsonaro as their president as voting begins on Sunday in a turbulent swing to the right in the world’s fourth largest democracy.
Bolsonaro’s sudden rise was propelled by rejection of the leftist Workers Party (PT) that ran Brazil for 13 of the last 15 years and was ousted two years ago in the midst of the country’s worst recession and biggest graft and bribery scandal.
Leftist rival Fernando Haddad, standing in for the jailed PT founder and former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been trailing Bolsonaro since the first round vote three weeks ago.
Final opinion polls on Saturday showing Haddad gaining momentum and endorsements from leading legal figures in Brazil’s unprecedented fight against political corruption have raised hopes among his supporters that he can pull off what would be a stunning upset win.
Haddad has reduced Bolsonaro’s lead from 12 to 8 percentage points in five days, according to the Ibope polling firm that gave him 46 percent of voter support compared with Bolsonaro’s 54 percent. A Datafolha poll also released late Saturday showed Bolsonaro had 55 percent and Haddad 45 percent.
Polling stations opened 8 am Sunday and the last was expected to close in far western Brazil at 7 pm Brasilia time.
Haddad failed to win the crucial endorsement of center-left former candidate Ciro Gomes, a former governor of Ceará state in the northeast, which would have given Haddad a big lift in Brazil’s poorest region.
But Rodrigo Janot, Brazil’s former prosecutor general under whose watch unprecedented prosecutions of endemic political graft took place, tweeted that he would vote for Haddad. Popular anticorruption judge, Joaquim Barbosa, who jailed several top PT leaders for corruption, also came out for Haddad.
The endorsements were a blow to Bolsonaro’s campaign to position himself as the only anti-corruption candidate.
Many Brazilians are concerned that Bolsonaro, an admirer of Brazil’s 196485 military dictatorship and a defender of its torture of leftist opponents, will trample on human rights, curtail civil liberties and muzzle freedom of speech.