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Presidential debate in Brazil almost ends up in a fistfight

Monday, August 29th 2022 - 10:48 UTC
Full article 5 comments
Bolsonaro had warned he would not shake the hand “of a thief”. Bolsonaro had warned he would not shake the hand “of a thief”.

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva and the incumbent Jair Bolsonaro took center stage Sunday in a TV presidential debate featuring all candidates due to participate in the upcoming October 2 elections.

In the audience, a Lula deputy and a former Bolsonaro minister were on the verge of fist fights.

“Your government was the most corrupt in the history of Brazil,” said in his opening remarks Bolsonaro to Lula, who has been acquitted in 26 trials.

“There was no other government that created so many mechanisms to fight corruption than mine,” the PT leader replied as he highlighted his social policies between 2003 and 2010 while adding that the current head of state was “destroying” the country.

Both candidates accused each other of lying, but the tension was worse in the next room, where journalists and politicians were following the debate on a screen. Congressman André Janones, a Lula ally, and Bolsonaro's former environment minister Ricardo Salles came close to hitting each other.

Organized by leading Brazilian news outlets including Rede Bandeirantes and Folha de São Paulo, the debate was the first in the campaign calendar ahead of the October 2 elections.

In the first part of the debate, Lula focused his speech on the defense of the environment and the Amazon, while Bolsonaro, 67, was criticized by the other candidates for the increase in deforestation, the advance of inflation, and hunger.

Prior to the broadcast, Bolsonaro, of the Liberal Party, said that he had no trouble appearing next to Lula, but warned that “he would not shake the hand of a thief.”

Once on screen, Bolsonaro defended the social measures taken in the second semester of 2022 aimed at increasing subsidy programs for almost 20 million families.

For his part, Lula, of the Workers' Party, promised to maintain social aid by 2023 and praised the model of social inclusion and job creation implemented during his government.

Regarding the economy, Bolsonaro affirmed that Brazil is “among the countries that recovered best from the pandemic,” while Lula responded, for his part, that he intends to return to govern Brazil “to rebuild growth with social inclusion.”

“The poor will be respected again,” said Lula, who intends to regulate the work of digital apps used by car drivers and food delivery drivers.

Bolsonaro called Lula an “ex-convict” for his 580 days in jail amid Operation Lava Jato in 2018, which disenfranchised him from running in that year's elections.

Lula stressed his convictions had been overturned to bias by former judge Sérgio Moro and the prosecutor's office.

In addition to Lula and Bolsonaro, the meeting brought together four other candidates: former Finance Minister Ciro Gomes (PDT, center-left), third in the polls (7%); Senator Simone Tebet (MDB, center) in fourth place; Senator Soraya Thronicke (União Brasil) and Felipe D'Avila, both below 1% in voting intentions.

Lula leads all polls with 47% of voting intentions against 32% for Bolsonaro, according to a Datafolha Institute poll published on August 18. Other polls place Lula in the lead, although by a smaller margin.

In 2018, when he won the election, Bolsonaro participated only in the first two presidential debates. One month before the first round, he was stabbed during a campaign rally and after undergoing surgery, he did not return to debate.

Neither Lula nor former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso (PSDB, center) participated in debates before the first round when they sought re-election in 2006 and 1998.

Categories: Politics, Brazil.

Top Comments

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  • imoyaro

    Why don't they just hand out cream pies and let them go at it?

    Aug 29th, 2022 - 06:46 pm 0
  • FortHay

    Wonderful idea. I'd pay to watch that, not just in Brasilia, but in Washington and elsewhere.

    Aug 30th, 2022 - 03:19 pm 0
  • Brasileiro

    Corruption is the motto of the Right in any country in the world. Although the Right is always the cancer of corruption.

    The Ruling Class never learns. Lula is Brazil's hope to end the two greatest plagues of our times: neoliberalism and hunger!

    Sep 01st, 2022 - 02:39 pm 0
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