Presidential Frontrunner Bolsonaro stabbed

Jair Bolsonaro, the far-right candidate who is leading the polls in Brazil’s presidential race, is in a serious condition after being stabbed while campaigning just a month before the election. General elections are scheduled to be held in Brazil in October 2018 to elect the...

Jair Bolsonaro, the far-right candidate who is leading the polls in Brazil’s presidential race, is in a serious condition, after being stabbed while campaigning just a month before the election.

Background

General elections are scheduled to be held in Brazil in October 2018 to elect the President, Vice President and the National Congress. The first round of the election is scheduled to take place on the 7th and a second round, if needed, will be on the 28th of October. The Presidential leading contenders, as per the last opinion polls, are Jair Bolsonaro ( 22% ), former environment minister Marina Silva ( 12 % ) and left-wing candidate Ciro Gomes ( 12 % ). 

Analysis

Bolsonaro was rushed to the Santa Casa de Misericórdia hospital in the town of Juiz de Fora, about 125 miles (200km) north of Rio de Janeiro, where a spokeswoman confirmed he was in surgery. Bolsonaro’s son, Flavio, confirmed on Twitter that his father was stabbed in the abdomen in the city of Juiz de Fora, in the state of Minas Gerais, but said he is doing fine.

Bolsonaro was waving to the crowd when he suddenly clutched his abdomen and cried out in pain before falling backwards into the arms of those around him. O Globo newspaper reported that he was wearing a bulletproof vest, but was wounded just below it.

Political violence is on the increase in Brazil. In March, Marielle Franco, a Rio de Janeiro city councillor for the leftist Socialism and Freedom party was murdered along with her driver Anderson Gomes in a crime which is yet to be solved. That same month, two buses in a campaign caravan for former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva were hit by gunshots. Lula was not with the convoy at the time.

In an especially unpredictable campaign, Bolsonaro has polarised opinion with his homophobic comments, calls for looser gun laws, attacks on the left and praise for Brazil's 1964-1985 military dictatorship, which tortured thousands of its opponents and executed hundreds more. Bolsonaro faces trial before the Supreme Court for speech that prosecutors said incited hate and rape. Mr. Bolsonaro’s campaign and police officials in Minas Gerais identified the assailant as Adélio Bispo de Oliveira. He was taken into custody by supporters of the candidate. They then turned him over to the federal police officers who provide security for Mr. Bolsonaro.

Mr. Bolsonaro, 63, has an ample lead in the most splintered presidential contest in generations. A new poll by Ibope issued this week puts him ahead of the pack with 22% of voter support. His closest rivals are tied with 12%. The vote will be held next month.

Dilma Rousseff, Lula’s successor, provoked some anger when she suggested that Bolsonaro’s extremist views could have provoked the attack. “When you plant hate, you harvest thunderstorms,” she said in an interview with the Folha de S Paulo newspaper. Brazil’s President Michel Temer quickly issued a statement, saying “intolerance is unacceptable”.

Brazil will hold general elections in October. Bolsonaro in recent weeks had taken to campaigning with a bulletproof vest. The former army captain has made a name for himself with his unapologetic rejection of political correctness and willingness to court controversy.

Assessment

Our assessment is that Bolsonaro is likely to use the attack to argue that his opponents are desperate and that they had no other way to stop him. We also feel that Brazilian politics have become increasingly polarized as people have taken to social media to decry the stabbing or to say that Bolsonaro had brought it on himself and even may have staged it.

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