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Brazil: Far-right presidential candidate surges in the polls

September 6, 2018

Jair Bolsonaro is the new frontrunner in Brazil's unpredictable election, polls show. The far-right former military man is hoping to capitalize on public discontent with an anti-establishment message.

Brazil's presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro
Image: Reuters/A. Machado

The first poll conducted since former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's candidacy was banned, put far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro on top of the presidential race with 22 percent of the vote. In the survey, conducted on Wednesday by polling firm Ibote, environmentalist candidate Marina Silva and leftist Ciro Gomes were tied in second place with 12 percent each.

Lula's likely successor of the Workers Party, Fernando Haddad, came in last with 6 percent. The results reflect the changed landscape without Lula, who was the frontrunner before an electoral court ruled his candidacy illegal, due to being in prison on corruption charges.

But almost a third of the voting population is undecided, making this one of the most unpredictable presidential elections in the country's history. Many of these voters have indicated to pollsters that they will either vote blank or not at all, due to generic disillusionment with the endless corruption scandals that currently plague Brazil's traditional leaders.

Read more: Germany's Martin Schulz visits ex-President Lula in jail

Anti-establishment message

Jair Bolsonaro rallied supporters on Wednesday offering a clean break from the past. The former army captain is running on an anti-graft, law-and-order campaign and has labeled his opponents of the Workers Party (PT) and the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB) as corrupt criminals.

"We're going to sweep the leaders of these parties into the dustbin of history," Bolsonaro told several thousand backers at a rally in a working class suburb of Brasilia.

"Brazil cannot stand another government by the PT or PSDB," he said. The rally featured an inflatable doll of Lula da Silva that Bolsonaro kicked into the crowd.

While Bolsonaro is currently ahead of the first round presidential vote of Ocotber 7, polls at this stage indicate that he would lose a runoff to either Marina Silva or Ciro Gomes.

Read more: Unlikely and unlikable, Jair Bolsonaro could lead Brazil

Lula to appeal court ruling

Meanwhile, Lula's lawyers filed two legal appeals on Wednesday, hoping to reverse the court ruling against his candidacy. One was filed at the Supreme Federal Court and the other was filed at the electoral court.

Lula and his legal team argue that the ban on his candidacy cannot be imposed so long as legal appeals in the case were pending.

His Workers' Party (PT), is also bringing the case up to the UN Human Rights Council, which said in August had supported Lula's candidacy and urged the government to allow it.  But the appeals represent a last-ditch effort that analysts view as unlikely to be successful, since both courts have already ruled against Lula, once to jail him and then to deny his presidential run.

jcg/kl (EFE, Reuters, AFP)Each evening at 1830 UTC, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.

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