RIO DE JANEIRO – Left-wing Ciro Gomes, who is currently running third in Brazil’s presidential race, said on Friday that only he could defeat controversial right-wing front-runner Jair Bolsonaro in an expected Oct. 28 runoff.
Gomes, ex-governor of the northeastern state of Ceara and candidate of the Democratic Labor Party (PDT), made his remarks to reporters during a visit to Rocinha, Rio de Janeiro’s largest favela (shantytown).
A runoff will be necessary if no candidate garners more than 50 percent of the ballots in Sunday’s first round of voting.
Gomes criticized the current second-place candidate, Fernando Haddad of the center-left Workers Party (PT), saying he “lacks the strength, energy and authority” needed to confront the “fascist wave that has erupted in Brazil.”
Haddad is the former running mate of the one-time leader in voter preference, imprisoned ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is serving a 12-year sentence for corruption (a conviction he and his supporters slam as based on flimsy evidence and politically motivated) and has been barred from competing in the election.
Bolsonaro, a former army officer who is known for his misogynist, racist and homophobic remarks and praise for Brazil’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship, has 35 percent of voter preference.
He has garnered support with a brash, Trump-like discourse and vows for looser gun laws and a no-holds-barred crackdown on corruption and violent crime, which are two of voters’ biggest concerns.
Polls show Haddad with 22 percent of the vote and Gomes with 11 percent.
In surveys asking likely voters whom they would support in a runoff between Bolsonaro and Haddad, respondents back the right-wing candidate by a narrow margin of 44 percent to 43 percent.
But in a hypothetical Gomes-Bolsonaro showdown, polls show the PDT candidate with 48 percent of voter preference and the right-wing Social Liberal Party (PSL) hopeful with 42 percent.