Final Brazilian presidential debate focuses on absent leader

Lamar Ellis
October 9, 2018

Bolsonaro, an admirer of Brazil's 1964-1985 military dictatorship, is running on a law-and-order platform and would ease gun controls so Brazilians can arm themselves against criminals.

"We want to decentralize government revenues and send them to the states, where governors and mayors know best how to apply resources locally", he said. If no candidate gets a majority, the race will go to a second-round run-off between the two top vote-getters on October 28.

With more polls due later on Saturday, the CNT/MDA survey captured a palpable surge in Bolsonaro's support in recent days that could, if it continues, see him win a majority of votes on Sunday, and avoid the October 28 run-off. Final polls on Saturday will determine if a second vote will be needed.

Bolsonaro's chances of winning on Sunday would be boosted if there is high abstention, and if many voters cast blank or spoiled ballots, said Leonardo Barreto, head of Brasilia-based political consultancy Factual.

The video was published Thursday from the party's Twitter account and comes as Bolsonaro is seeing a rise in the polls.

His decision was emblematic of his unconventional presidential bid that has eschewed traditional campaigning in favour of grassroots organising through social media and selective interviews.

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Even political rivals conceded that Bolsonaro's odds are improving. Haddad dropped one point to 21 percent. Haddad stood at 22%. He has called Lula a key adviser, but has denied any plans to pardon the former president or give him a role in government.

Earlier, in a live speech over Facebook, Bolsonaro rejected accusations he was racist, sexist and homophobic, though he has faced charges for hate speech against these groups. It would also block efforts to legalize abortion, drugs and gay marriage.

Front-runner Jair Bolsonaro, 55, has surged on widespread anger over rising crime, a drifting economy and the prospect of the leftist Workers Party returning to power. Investors blame the party for plunging Brazil into its worst recession in 2015-2016.

The signs that Bolsonaro is gaining momentum led Brazil's stock index up to a near five-month high and its currency to its strongest level in nearly two months on Wednesday.

Bolsonaro's economic positions remained unclear. Last week he asked his economic advisor Paulo Guedes and his running mate retired general Hamilton Mourão to hold off on making public statements after contradictions emerged over economic policy.

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