Published: Mon, October 08, 2018

Brazil front-runner Bolsonaro misses last presidential debate

Brazil front-runner Bolsonaro misses last presidential debate

Brazilian markets have rallied on the prospect of Bolsonaro stopping a return to power by the Workers Party, which investors blame for plunging Brazil into its worst recession in 2015-2016.

Nonetheless, support for him has surged in recent days - with some observers saying that he could even win the presidency in the first-round ballot, with the left-leaning vote split between Haddad and a clutch of other candidates. 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.

"Let's avoid a second round", he appealed to supporters in a live Facebook feed, asking them to convince relatives and friends to vote for him.

The former Sao Paulo mayor is the PT candidate after former PT president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was barred from the election by the country's Electoral Court.

But perhaps more tellingly, Bolsonaro's share of valid votes shot up to 42.6 percent from 35.3 percent, putting him tantalizingly close to Brazil's first initial-round electoral victory since 1998. Haddad will campaign on Saturday in Bahia state in the northeast of Brazil where Lula is still a hero because his government did much to relieve poverty.

Datafolha's poll confirmed an Ibope survey released on Monday that showed Bolsonaro's advance since last week. Last week he asked his economic adviser, Paulo Guedes, and his running mate, retired General Hamilton Mourão, to hold off on making public statements after contradictions emerged over economic policy.

A Bolsonaro government would speed up the privatisation of state companies to reduce Brazil's budget deficit and relax environmental controls for farming and mining.

An admirer of Brazil's 1964-1985 military dictatorship, Bolsonaro has won massive support from the fast-growing evangelical community by vowing to block the legalization of abortion, gay marriage and drugs. The Datafolha firm had Bolsonaro up one point at 36 percent and Haddad unchanged at 22 percent.

Hydroelectric dam projects on the Tapajos river in the Amazon basin that were stopped due to environmental concerns would be discussed again, Ferreira said.

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