RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil’s 147.3 million voters will choose their nation’s new president this Sunday amid a pronounced polarization that far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro and socialist Fernando Haddad insist on increasing right up to the eve of the elections.
The two favorites to win the most unpredictable and polarized election since Brazil recovered its democracy in 1985 were all over the social networks this Saturday, campaigning with new attacks on what should be a day of reflection.
Haddad aired a video in which he said that Bolsonaro, aware that he will lose an eventual balloting if he has to take part in debates, decided to ask voters aiming to vote for other candidates to make their vote “useful” by giving it to him to guarantee his victory this Sunday without the need for a second round, which would be necessary if no one gets more than half of the vote.
“The other side is desperate because they know that if Bolsonaro is forced to take part in debates (for a second round), his leadership will have a meltdown,” Haddad said.
The successor of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as candidate of the Workers Party changed his agenda at the last minute and decided to spend Saturday in the northeast, the electoral stronghold of Lula, to make sure he wins the support of the poorest people in a contest in which the majority of the richest support the far right.
Surveys indicate that Bolsonaro with 35 percent and Haddad with 22 percent will win the most votes this Sunday, but since neither is likely to get more than half the votes, a second round seems certain.
This would take place on Oct. 28, and in that situation Bolsonaro appears to enjoy a minimal advantage – 44 percent against 43 percent – a technical tie with Haddad.
The far-right candidate, controversial for defending the 1964-1985 military dictatorship and for his macho, racist, homophobic and xenophobic opinions, made a call for the “useful vote” in an attempt to win the election on the first round.
For Haddad, that strategy is based on the fact that Bolsonaro, who was hospitalized during most of the campaign after being stabbed on Sept. 6, wants to avoid the debates required in a second round because he knows he won’t do well.
“God and the people permitting, Brazil will have the chance to compare two projects – one that includes and defends citizens’ rights and another who only speaks of cutting them back,” the socialist candidate said.