Jair Bolsonaro is a man of pretty spectacular statements.
As Brazil goes to the polls the soundbites from his presidency will be ringing in voters ears. For many it seems with alarm not approval.
Elected in 2018, with Trumpian swagger and rhetoric, he once said only God could remove him from power.
Today, lesser mortals might be about to do that job.
The man who told a rally “there are only three alternatives for me, to be arrested, to be killed or to be victorious and I tell those scumbags, I will never go to jail” is trailing badly in the polls.
His left-wing rival, former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, known as Lula, looks on track to make history by ousting a first term president in the first round.
Quite a comeback for a politician jailed then cleared of corruption, after governing Brazil between 2003 and 2010. If that does happen it will be a spectacular repudiation of Bolsonaro and his policies.
As a pandemic president, Bolsonaro failed to engage with Covid’s threat. While 700,000 Brazilians died he described the virus as a “little cold” branding those with concerns “cissys”.
Such words played badly with many voters.
Accusations of homophobia appear to be supported by his own words: “I’d rather my son die in an accident than be gay."
'The reason that the world is watching this so closely is because of the situation in the Amazon'
So too misogyny: “I wouldn’t rape you, you’re not worth it."
Repeated denials of climate change and his failure to protect the Amazon has further alienated middle of the road voters while engaging his base.
Defeat is not an option Bolsonaro has been willing to consider, but he’s laying the groundwork should that happen.
He has repeatedly called into question the trustworthiness of the electronic voting machines and openly suggested they could be used to rig the election.
He has said he will accept the election result if it is fair, but with the caveat that if he doesn’t get 60% in the first round he will question the result.
In reality he stands no chance of getting anywhere near that, stagnating in the mid 30s in the polls.
That is why there is such concern what defeat will look like for Brazil. The fear of widespread disorder is growing and after a campaign riven by violence that fear appears to be valid
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