Brazil's two presidential candidates: Far-right versus resolutely left

Mr Jair Bolsonaro is greeted by supporters as he launches his campaign for the Brazilian presidency in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 22, 2018. PHOTO: AFP
Mr Fernando Haddad, presidential candidate for the Workers' Party, speaks as his wife Ana Estela Haddad (third from left) looks on. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) - Brazilian voters are confronted with two deeply divisive candidates vying to be their next president in an Oct 28 run-off election.

On the one hand, there's Jair Bolsonaro, an ultra-conservative former military man promising a Donald Trump-like shake-up of Latin America's biggest economy.

On the other, there's Fernando Haddad, representing the left-wing Workers Party that was in power under the 2003-2010 boom period of former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva - now in prison - and a subsequent recession that was the country's worst on record.

Here is a look at the two run-off candidates:


Like United States President Trump, the 63-year-old Bolsonaro is fond of tough-guy talk, eschews political correctness and uses social media to bypass journalistic scrutiny.

He has hailed military men in government, championed looser gun laws, and projects an image of an outsider combating a corrupt and incompetent elite.

But the comparison with the US leader is not entirely accurate: Mr Bolsonaro himself once served in the military as an army captain, is in fact a longstanding member of Brazil's congress, which he joined in 1991, and does not have the backing of a major party.

Still, his shoot-from-the-hip style, pledge to completely revamp Brazil's big economy and polarising effect on the electorate are what has grabbed much attention.

Statements pillorying gays, denigrating women (he once said of a female leftist deputy: "She doesn't deserve to be raped because she's very ugly."), dismissing Brazil's large poor black population and justifying the use of torture have sparked visceral opposition to his candidacy.

On Sept 6, he survived a knife attack while on the campaign trail, which police say was carried out by a man who acted alone and out of political motivation.

Yet, investors have hopes that Mr Bolsonaro, a Roman Catholic father of five - born from three relationships - who has close links to influential Evangelical Christian churches, can hoist Brazil out of its economic malaise.


Mr Haddad, was tapped by the Workers Party to replace its preferred candidate Lula, who is serving a 12-year prison term for graft and disqualified from making a comeback.

Channeling Lula's popularity, the 55-year-old Haddad climbed up the survey rankings.

But the former mayor of Sao Paulo - Brazil's biggest city - and has struggled to set himself apart from the iconic Lula.

Worse, he has to carry the baggage of his party's years in power that are blamed for Brazil's economic mess, and much of the corruption.

It hasn't helped that Mr Haddad, the son of a Lebanese immigrant, faced corruption accusations linked to his campaign during municipal elections in 2012.

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