By Mark J. Wood
In what is set to be the most uncertain presidential election in Brazils’ recent history, the drama continues to unfold. In addition to former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, serving jail time, he is now barred from running in the highly anticipated elections set for next month, amid corruption allegations. Another twist of events occurred when far right candidate, Jair Bolsonaro, was stabbed at a political rally in Juiz de Fora on September 13, 2018.
The Irish Times reports the attack caused internal hemorrhaging, forcing Bolsonaro to undergo surgery and remain hospitalized after losing 40 percent of his blood. After being operated on in Juiz de Fora the Congressman was sent to São Paulo for further treatment. The lone assailant, Adelio Bispo de Oliveria, told authorities that he was acting on “Gods orders,” when he attacked the 63-year-old presidential hopeful.
The former Army Captain entered politics in the 1980s. His Social Liberal Party (SLP), has it’s ideology centered around far-right politics, which advocate for economic liberalism, Christian nationalism, and national conservatism. During his campaigns Bolsonaro has been appealing to his nationalist base and the millions of evangelical Christians who praise his anti-abortion stance. He has also captured the attention of other Brazilians on his economic liberal policies and his iron fist attitude towards crime.
A rather controversial figure with a sharp tongue, Bolsonaro has been viewed by many Brazilians as a fresh face, even though he has been in politics for over 30 years. This freshness is something many Brazilians are in desperate need of, during the seemingly never-ending corruption scandals and misuse of power. While he is not spared by corruption rumors, as seems to be a never-ending trend Brazilian politics, no corruption allegations against Bolsonaro have stuck. The Irish Times reports that Bolsonora views all corruption allegations made against him as slander.
Viewed by some as a mold of U.S. President, Donald Trump, and Philippines leader, Rodrigo Duterte, for the similarities of their sometimes crude and misogynist comments. The SLP candidate does not seem deterred by either the ‘slander’ or by the Facebook group page, ‘Women United Against Bolsonaro’, which was inspired by his racist, sexist, and homophobic comments and now has over 800,000 followers.
The Financial Times reported he is notably remembered for assaulting a fellow congresswoman in 2003 over her looks. In 2007 he is quoted in Florida saying “I’m going to give carte blanche to the police officers to kill,” a similar rhetoric to Duterte. One supporter of Bolsonaro echoes his sentiment, reporting to The Guardian that “Public security should be put first. It is an embarrassment.”
According to Al Jazeera, Bolsonaro’s biggest threat is Fernando Haddad, the former Mayor of São Paulo and member of the Workers Party. A party which last been besmirched by corruption charges from former presidents Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff. Amid all this the Workers Party still has a chance in the elections.
The former Army Captain has built himself up using social media as a strong platform, has not lost his moral ideology to appease everyone, and could potentially take over the world’s ninth largest economy. On the September 20, 2018 the Ibope survey shows that since the attack the poll numbers are moving in Bolsonaro’s favor, he is leading the polls with 28 percent and Brazilians go to the polls on October 7.
The Financial Times reports that Bolsonaro is set to win the first round of votes and if he does win the second round of votes, where he will most likely face Haddad, Bolsonaro would be the first right-wing nationalist leader in Brazil since the fall of years of military rule in the 1980s. An advocate to reinstate the death penalty, Bolsonaro would face mounting pressure to deal with crime, corruption, wide spread poverty and revive the sluggish economy.