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News > Brazil

Bolsonaro Hides Behind Allies to Attack Lula Da Silva in Debate

  • Father Kelmo (R) hugging his alleged presidential rival Jair Bolsonaro (L), Sept. 29, 2022.

    Father Kelmo (R) hugging his alleged presidential rival Jair Bolsonaro (L), Sept. 29, 2022. | Photo: Twitter/ @OGloboPolitica

Published 30 September 2022

To avoid appearing as "the big loser" on Sunday, "Bolsonaro needed to knock out Lula and make him appear defeated. He didn't make it,” Professor Medeiros explained.

During the presidential debate on Thursday, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and other right-wing candidates staged a political spectacle full of aggressions whose objective became obvious: to take votes away from the Workers' Party candidate Lula da Silva, who has already passed 50 percent of voting intentions according to the most recent polls.


Lula Has 50% Valid Votes and Could Win in First Round: Poll

To avoid direct confrontation with Lula, Bolsonaro enlisted the help of candidate Felipe D'Avila, a member of the Novo party linked to large agribusinesses operating in the Amazon region.

The former Capitan also had the support of Kelmon da Silva Souza, a politician known as "Father Kelmon," who is sponsored by the Brazilian Labor Party (PTB), an organization whose name paradoxically hides its alignment with far-right stances.

“This was pretty predictable. All the candidates attacked former President Lula, who is leading the polls. Some of them even acted as an accessory to Bolsonaro,” said Rosemary Segurado, a political scientist at the Pontifical Catholic University of Sao Paulo (PUC-SP).

ln the first part of the debate organized by O Globo, "Bolsonaro and Kelmon began to stage an obviously rehearsed argument to attack Lula by reproducing alleged accusations of corruption against the leftist leader," Brasil de Fato pointed out.

Using his right to reply, however, Lula started to demolish lies from Bolsonaro, who got furious when the Workers' Party candidate recalled some of the corruption scandals that Brazilian journalists have revealed about "the Bolsonaro Clan" and its ministers.

At that moment, Lula da Silva made the corruption of the Brazilian conservatives evident when he recalled that Bolsonaro had issued a decree to keep his administration's public purchases secret for 100 years.

Over the last weeks, this scandal has outraged Brazilians since the 100-year secrecy refers to the time of the pandemic, when Bolsonaro denied the importance of preventive measures and COVID-19 vaccination.

"Lula's replies made Bolsonaro chicken out during the debate... Lula destroyed the strategy of using Father Kelmon. Cowed, Bolsonaro fled from a tête-à-tête in the third part of the debate," Forum Magazine commented.

“Bolsonaro's situation was difficult. He needed to be aggressive to communicate with his supporters. His aggressiveness, however, prevented him from expanding on the topics," explained Josue Medeiros, professor of Political Science at the Rio de Janeiro Federal University (UFRJ) and coordinator of the Center for Studies on Brazilian Democracy.

To avoid appearing as "the big loser" on Sunday's elections, "Bolsonaro needed to knock out Lula and make him appear defeated. He didn't make it,” Medeiros added.

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