Brazil election 2019: Jair Bolsonaro calls for ‘right direction’ as poll leader

Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s far-right firebrand and candidate for the rightwing Social Liberal party, said he had announced a move to the center on Tuesday, vowing to run on a platform of fiscal discipline, free market economics and a market oriented foreign policy.

Bolsonaro, who is polling strongly ahead of October’s presidential elections in Brazil, has long billed himself as a crusader against corruption and is a vocal critic of the leftist Workers party that has governed the country for most of the last two decades. His campaign has revolved around his insistence that the country’s traditional political establishment must be dismantled before any meaningful change can be made to tackle rampant poverty and inequality.

Bolsonaro currently enjoys a comfortable lead over his nearest competitor in the polls, Geraldo Alckmin, an industrialist and two-time governor of Sao Paulo, in the race to replace the unpopular President Michel Temer.

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Brazil has been ruled by a left-right split ever since Lula da Silva was jailed last year. A 2016 trial saw him formally convicted of receiving bribes in the form of three luxury apartments in return for the government giving an engineering company inflated contracts to build a highway. On appeal, Lula was sentenced to nearly 10 years in prison but legal appeals have halted any potential sentence pending the outcome of his general appeal.

Jair Bolsonaro (C) talks to reporters during a meeting with Rousseff family members and supporters. Photograph: Adalia Savado/Reuters

Bolsonaro has not disavowed his support for Lula, as he once did, but has also stated he supports the impeachment of the current president.

A self-confessed history buff and activist in the far-right movement, he has likened the Afro-Brazilian community to an inferior race and has likened his opponents to slaves and terrorists.

He has described the current US president, Donald Trump, as an “excellent statesman” and has vowed to be a “Trumpier than ever” if elected. He will face the former Sao Paulo governor Geraldo Alckmin in a second round run-off on 27 October.

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