Brazilians fed up with corruption and rising crime are expected to elect former army captain turned politician Jair Bolsonaro as their president as voting begins on Sunday in a turbulent swing to the right in the world’s fourth largest democracy.
Bolsonaro’s sudden rise was propelled by rejection of the leftist Workers Party (PT) that ran Brazil for 13 of the last 15 years and was ousted two years ago in the midst of the country’s worst recession and biggest graft and bribery scandal.
His leftist rival Fernando Haddad, standing in for the jailed PT founder and former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been trailing Bolsonaro since the first round vote three weeks ago.
But final opinion polls on Saturday showing Haddad gaining momentum and endorsements from leading legal figures in Brazil’s unprecedented fight against political corruption have raised hopes among his supporters that he can pull off what would be a stunning upset win.
Haddad has reduced Bolsonaro’s lead from 12 to 8 percentage points in five days, according to the Ibope polling firm that gave him 46 per cent of voter support compared with Bolsonaro’s 54 per cent. A Datafolha poll also released late Saturday showed Bolsonaro had 55 per cent and Haddad 45 per cent.
Polling stations opened at 8:00am on Sunday and the last will close in far western Brazil at 7:00pm Brasilia time.
Haddad failed to win the crucial endorsement of center-left former candidate Ciro Gomes, a former governor of Ceará state in the northeast, which would have given Haddad a big lift in Brazil’s poorest region.
But Rodrigo Janot, Brazil’s former prosecutor general under whose watch unprecedented prosecutions of endemic political graft took place, tweeted that he would vote for Haddad. Popular anti-corruption judge, Joaquim Barbosa, who jailed several top PT leaders for corruption, also came out for Haddad.
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