RIO DE JANEIRO – Center-left presidential hopeful Ciro Gomes said on Wednesday that the man selected by jailed former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to replace him as the Workers Party’s candidate in the Oct. 7 election lacks the qualities needed to take charge of Brazil in a time of trouble.
“(Fernando) Haddad is an excellent person, a good person, I have great affection for him, great esteem and great respect, but he doesn’t know Brazil, he has no experience, he doesn’t have the grit needed at this difficult time,” Gomes said of the former Sao Paulo mayor and federal education minister.
In remarks to the press at an event at the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, Gomes said Haddad is not the right person to lead at a time when the country “is threatened by a proto-fascist phenomenon,” referring to far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, who is leading in the voter surveys.
According to the most recent surveys, Gomes has jumped from 10 percent to 13 percent support, putting him tentatively in second place, on a par with ecologist Marina Silva and conservative Gerardo Alkmin, while Bolsonaro is out front in the polls with 24 percent.
If Gomes wants to strengthen his second-place position, he will have to pull leftist votes away from Haddad, who is in fifth place with 9 percent.
The presidential contest is virtually certain to go to a second round, set for Oct. 28, and the notoriously racist and sexist Bolsonaro – who remains hospitalized a week after being stabbed at a rally – is seen as having no chance of prevailing in a runoff.
During Thursday’s event, Gomes said that science and technology at present have the lowest government budget in the past 16 years, adding that, if he is elected president, he will devote 2 percent of GDP to the area.
Brazil must invest in science and technology if it wishes to be truly independent, he said.