Brazil: Lula and Bolsonaro fight back and forth in the 1st debate
“Little dictator,” “national disgrace”: Attacks between Lula and Jair Bolsonaro shot up on Sunday during the first televised debate the two had faced in the second round of Brazil’s presidential election in two weeks.
This debate, which lasted less than two hours on the Bandeirantes channel, was heated at times, but the tone was nevertheless less aggressive than during the debates that had taken place before the first round in the presence of other candidates.
Former left-wing President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (2003-2010) initially took a stronger stance in his favor, particularly with harsh allegations of Mr Bolsonaro’s “negligence” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But the incumbent right-wing extremist head of state recovered towards the end with groundbreaking on the issue of corruption, especially the huge scandal involving the state-owned oil company Petrobras.
“Both candidates had their ups and downs, but overall President Bolsonaro has done better most of the time,” political scientist Christopher Mendonca told AFP, contrasting with a “nervous” Lula.
“Lula, you should go home and enjoy life instead of going back to the crime scene. You are a national disgrace!” Jair Bolsonaro launched and castigated “corruption galore in Brazil” during his adversary’s two mandates.
For his part, Lula had no hesitation in calling the outgoing president a “petty dictator,” notably for wanting to increase the number of Supreme Court justices in order to weaken the judiciary.
However, its most vicious attacks were focused on dealing with the health crisis.
“Because of your negligence, more than 680,000 people have died of Covid in Brazil, while more than half could have been saved,” launched the ex-president of the left, referring in particular to the delays in buying vaccines.
– “Fayote” –
“Lula, stop lying, man your age!” Later, Jair dropped Bolsonaro, 67.
“You’re the king of misinformation, the king of stupidity,” said Lula, 76.
Jair Bolsonaro also accused the former metalworker of having “not the slightest concern for the poorest” and congratulated himself on approving exceptional spending of 600 reais (about $97) a month in allowances for the poorest families.
But the debate, with a new format that allowed the two candidates to move freely in the studio, was also marked by humorous moments.
After an awkward silence, Jair Bolsonaro smiled and put his hand on Lula’s shoulder.
The latter maintained that his opponent was his “bean” before becoming his sworn enemy: “I was shown many speeches you made, speaking well of me, when you were an MP and I was President.”
Lula received 48.3% of the vote in the first ballot, versus 43.2% for the far-right president.
The election campaign was marked by vicious attacks between the candidates and their entourage, who did not hesitate to raise allegations of cannibalism, pedophilia or links to organized crime.
– Subtle provocation –
Jair Bolsonaro was snubbed by the left-wing opposition on Saturday for saying an “atmosphere was created” when he met young Venezuelan underage women on the street in a slum of Brasilia, implying they were prostitutes.
Faced with the barrage of criticism these statements provoked, the Brazilian President asserted that he had “always fought against pedophilia”.
Lula played the provocation by wearing a brooch with the logo of a campaign against the sexual abuse of children and young people on his suit jacket.
Supreme Electoral Tribunal President Alexandre de Moraes on Sunday ordered videos linking Jair Bolsonaro to pedophilia removed from major social media platforms, saying he thought the president’s remarks were ” taken out of context”.
Lula would win the second round of the presidential election, which takes place on Oct. 30, with 53% of the votes cast against 47% for Jair Bolsonaro, according to a Datafolha poll released on Friday.
The second round promises to be hotly contested in this extremely polarized election, and the two candidates have been scrambling to rally political support and win over the undecided by waging intense campaigning across Brazil.
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