By Eduardo Davis
Brasilia, Oct 27 (EFE).- Three days out from the presidential runoff election in Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro is expending his last campaign ammunition in an effort to convince voters to cast their ballots for him with an eye toward reversing the advantage that all voter surveys are giving to his rival, leftist former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
The reserve army captain who has led Brazil for the past four years has directed a large portion of his campaign rhetoric against the election authorities and the process in general, having tried to discredit it all for more than a year and launching this strategy when the voter surveys began showing Lula with a decisive advantage.
At present, the voter surveys show that the former labor leader enjoys a lead of between four and six percentage points over the ultrarightist president in the upcoming Sunday vote.
On Thursday, in a residential section of Rio de Janeiro, Bolsonaro insisted that Lula is “corruption” and “communism” incarnate, although that’s no different from what he’s been saying all during the campaign, but he made no direct reference to his latest and extremely virulent attack on the electoral system, which over the past week he has targeted with his rhetorical barrages.
Bolsonaro and his supporters last Monday filed a complaint with the Superior Electoral Tribunal (TSE), Brazil’s top election authority, claiming that an unspecified number of radio stations were not broadcasting his free campaign ads, something to which all candidates have a legal right.
However, the complaint was thrown out by the TSE, which said that the filed documents contained only measurements of traffic on the Internet, where Web sites are not obligated to transmit such ads.
The ruckus sparked by the allegation was such that a group of Bolsonaro-backing attorneys even went in person to the Attorney General’s Office to call for the suspension of the Sunday election despite the fact that such a move is not contemplated in the country’s Constitution and was ruled out even by Bolsonaro’s own campaign.
In any case, the brouhaha revived tensions surrounding the possibility that Bolsonaro, as he has frequently insinuated, will not recognize the result of the balloting on Sunday if he loses, the tack that former US President Donald Trump – for whom the Brazilian leader publicly professes his admiration – took in losing the 2020 election to Joe Biden.
In fact, according to Bolsonaro, if he loses the election it would solely be because the balloting was “manipulated” with the “sole aim” of favoring Lula.
Although the ultrarightist leader on Thursday did not touch on that subject, his supporters were not shy about doing so, demanding that TSE president Alexandre de Moraes be thrown in jail.
The progressive candidate, meanwhile, on Thursday turned 77 and celebrated his birthday in private and without fuss, but he did devote the bulk of his day to preparing for the last televised debate of the campaign.
This last face-to-face confrontation with Bolsonaro will take place on Friday evening on the Globo television channel, which has the largest viewership in Brazil, and the outcome could be decisive for both campaigns as the candidates direct their remarks to the roughly 10 percent of the Brazilian electorate who surveys show are still undecided.
On his social network accounts, Lula noted that, in addition to turning 77 on Oct. 27, on that day in 2002 he won the elections that for the first time brought him to the presidency, after which he was reelected in 2006 for another four-year term.
In a brief telematic interview, Lula insisted that at his age he could have “remained at home,” but he decided to once again run for president because “it’s necessary to rebuild Brazil after the disaster that Bolsonaro has left.”
Although Lula did not participate in much in the way of birthday festivities, his supporters certainly did, staging rallies and campaign events in dozens of cities around the country and hailing the former union leader with the slogan “Unafraid to Be Happy,” the same one he has used since 1989 and which he once again adopted for his sixth presidential campaign.