Brazil’s Bolsonaro takes commanding lead in presidential race

BRASILIA, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) – As Brazil’s
presidential race heads into the homestretch, conservative Social Liberal Party
(PSL) candidate Jair Bolsonaro takes a commanding lead over rival Fernando
Haddad of the left-leaning Workers’ Party (PT).

With just days left before the Oct. 28
run-off, Bolsonaro has a 14 percent to 20 percent advantage, according to the
latest polls.

Surveys show that Bolsonaro has the support
from 57 percent to 60 percent of the voters, compared with 40 percent to 43 percent
for Haddad. 

The outlook is grim for Haddad, who has
described this race as a dispute between democracy and authoritarianism, given
Bolsonaro’s hardline campaign platform.

History shows a second-placed candidate has
never been able to turn things around and win a presidential runoff in Brazil.

Additionally, Brazil’s progressive sectors
failed to unite behind Haddad, who was primarily hoping for an endorsement from
ex-President Fernando Henrique Cardoso.

While Cardoso repeatedly expressed concern
about Bolsonaro’s outspoken right-wing views, he declined to support the PT
candidate. 

As Bolsonaro rose in the polls, Haddad changed
tactic, deciding to distance himself from the PT’s original candidate and
spiritual leader — ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is currently
serving a 12-year prison term for corruption.

He also admitted the PT made mistakes.  But the change in strategy made little
difference.

Bolsonaro has maintained his lead even after
allegations surfaced last week that his supporters paid millions to spread fake
news via social networks. 

The nation’s top election body, the Superior
Electoral Court (TSE), opened an investigation into the charges but otherwise
took no action, saying it was confident that Sunday’s voting will go off
without a hitch. 

In another incident, Eduardo Bolsonaro, the
candidate’s son, was caught on video suggesting the top judicial body, the
supreme court could be easily shut down with just “a corporal and a
soldier.” 

The remarks angered Supreme Court Judges, who
said it was “irresponsible” and evocative of a “coup.”

Bolsonaro apologized on behalf of his son and
expressed his respect for the high court.

During a campaign rally in Sao Paulo on
Sunday, Bolsonaro again sparked outcries, saying his “red”
adversaries should either leave the country or go to prison, including
Haddad. 

But these incidents have failed to make a dent
in his popularity. 

Aware of his strong lead, the PSL candidate
refused to take part in traditional televised presidential debates, admitting
it was a campaign strategy.

His running mate Hamilton Mourao, a retired
General, and economic adviser Paulo Guedes, have similarly kept a low profile.

Unless something comes up that could have a
major impact on voters, everything points to a decisive Bolsonaro victory on
Sunday.

GNA

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