Brazil election: Far-right candidate Bolsonaro has lead cut in polls as left-wing rival Haddad makes gains

Former military leader sees support soften after threatening to jail his political opponents

Adam Forrest
Friday 26 October 2018 15:03 BST
Jair Bonson speaks to rally through phone saying socialists 'will go to jail or leave the country' if he wins

Brazil’s far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro has seen his huge poll lead over leftist hopeful Fernando Haddad cut by six points ahead of Sunday’s vote, a new poll has revealed.

But Mr Bolsonaro remains firmly ahead in the latest Datafolha poll, out in front with 56 per cent of voter support compared to Mr Haddad’s 44 per cent support.

A week ago the same poll had the ex-army captain – dubbed “Trump of the Tropics” – further ahead on 59 per cent while his socialist rival was on 41 per cent.

The last few days has seen momentum shift towards Mr Haddad, the Workers Party’s candidate, after the far-right frontrunner threatened to lock up his political opponents.

Mr Bolsonaro – who has spoken fondly of Brazil’s former military dictatorship – said socialists would have to “go overseas” or “go to jail” if he wins.

“These red outlaws will be banished from our homeland. It will be a cleansing never seen in Brazilian history,” he told supporters at a rally in San Paulo.

The phrase "#NotHim" projected on Sao Paulo building in reference to candidate Jair Bolsonaro
The phrase "#NotHim" projected on Sao Paulo building in reference to candidate Jair Bolsonaro (Reuters)

Analysts are uncertain whether the socialist candidate has enough momentum to stop the far-right congressman winning power.

“It’s impossible to say if there will be a continuous migration of votes (from Mr Bolsonaro to Mr Haddad) that would continue until the election on Sunday,” said Mauro Paulino, the head of Datafolha.

In response to the latest poll, Mr Haddad tweeted: “Bolsonaro said last Sunday that he was going to sweep away the opposition. Well, he’s not going to have an opposition because he will not be governing. We’re going to win this.”

Earlier this week Mr Bolsonaro was forced to condemn his son for threatening to shut down the Supreme Court.

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Eduardo Bolsonaro said the country’s top court could be forcibly disbanded by the Army if it tried to strip his father of electoral victory.

Yet the Social Liberal Party candidate has promised to use the “civilian and military police” to enforce a political purge.

He said former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva would be left “to rot in jail”, and warned Mr Haddad he could “get there too”.

The far-right candidate also threatened to designate the landless workers’ movement and homeless workers’ movement as terrorists.

Mr Bolsonaro has a long history of offensive remarks about immigrants, black Brazilians and gay people.

In a speech made last year, Mr Bolsonaro spoke about a black settlement founded by the descendants of slaves. “They do nothing. They are not even good for procreation,” he said.

He has also reportedly referred to black activists as “animals” who should “go back to the zoo”.

An open letter signed by 14 leading academics, lawyers and politicians, including Noam Chomsky and the Mayor of Barcelona Ada Colau, urged the international community to support democratic freedoms in Brazil regardless of Sunday’s result.

Additional reporting by agencies

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