Brazilian Politician Recovering From Stabbing, May Surge in Presidential Polls
On Thursday, Jair Bolsonaro, Brazilian’s far-right presidential candidate, was stabbed in the right abdomen while campaigning in the state of Minas Gerais. He survived the attack despite losing 40 percent of his blood, according to some of the doctors treating the politician.
Bolsonaro’s son Flavio wrote on his Twitter account that his father ‘s wound initially looked shallow but gave an update two hours later that his father almost lost too much blood and died.
It could take two months for the politician dubbed as Brazilian’s Donald Trump to recover, said Dr. Luiz Henrique Borsato, who operated on him.
“His internal wounds were grave and put the patient’s life at risk,” Borsato stated.
The attacker, identified as Adelio Bispo de Oliveira, was soon arrested as confirmed by the country’s police spokesperson Flavio Santiago to AP. It is still unclear what the motivations behind the attack were.
“We do not know if it was politically motivated,” said Corporal Vitor Albuquerque, a spokesman for the local police.
There were 28 killings of Brazilian politicians in 2016, 15 of which occurred during the campaign period. Earlier this year, Marielle Franco, an Afro-Brazilian female lawmaker who often criticized police brutality, was murdered in Rio de Janeiro.
Bolsonaro’s contenders condemned the violence and described it as a “horror.” President Michel Temer said that the stabbing was intolerable in the democratic state. The attack targeting the 63-year-old politician is one of the most dramatic events in Brazilian politics since the return of democracy in one of the largest countries in Latin America almost three decades ago.
A Brief Profile of Jair Bolsonaro
Jair Bolsonaro emerged as the nation’s second most popular candidate since the federal court barred Brazil’s former president Luiz Inacio “Lula” Da Silva from running for presidency due to corruption charges.
Bolsonaro once served in the country’s military for seventeen years. He currently represents the Social Liberal Party (PSL) in the upcoming election.
Millions of Brazilians follow him on social media. Bolsonaro is known for his anti-abortion and anti-LGBT stances, and remarks often perceived as racist. In 2011, he told Playboy magazine that he could not love his son if he was gay and would rather see his son die in an accident.
Bolsonaro’s blunt statements have attracted voters who blamed the leftist party for massive corruption and causing an economic crisis. The father of five children promises to elect more military officers to fill his cabinet if he wins the election despite his opposition to the return of a military dictatorship like the one that led the country for two decades (1964-1985). He also supports more relaxed regulation of firearms to help combat crimes.
He once faced charges for his remarks insulting women, homosexuals, and black Africans. During the campaign, he said he intended to shoot a corrupt politician from the Workers’ Party, which was once led by Lula.
The Assassination Attempt Against Bolsonaro Could Increase his Electability
The attempt on Bolsonaro’s life could boost his electability, as his right-wing party can use security and violence issues to attract more votes in the upcoming election on October 7, 2018.
“This plays straight into his message: the security issues, the violence and the need to address those issues,” Monica de Bolle, the director of Latin American Studies at Johns Hopkins University said in an interview with the New York Times.
The image of Bolsonaro struggling to recover after the stabbing will help him to gain more sympathy from undecided voters. He is already leading the polls by 22 percent since Lula was dropped from the race. Lula’s candidacy will be likely transferred to Fernando Haddad, who has only won six percent in the polls. Environmentalist candidate Marina Silva and leftist Ciro Gomes were tied in second place with 12 percent each.
Will Bolsonaro make it to the second round of votes held on October 21, 2018? Probably, but experts and current polls predict that the retired captain will have a much tougher time in a runoff.
According to DW, while Bolsonaro is currently ahead of the first round presidential vote of October 7, polls at this stage indicate that he would lose a runoff to either Marina Silva or Ciro Gomes.
The upcoming election is being considered one of the most unpredictable in the country’s history, given that Brazilians are faced with dissatisfaction with the leftist party due to corruption and an anti-establishment message voiced by the far-right.
Meanwhile, Lula and his legal team filed two legal appeals last week aiming to reverse the court’s ruling against his eligibility for the upcoming election. His team argues that as long as the case against him is still pending legal appeals, he cannot be banned from the election.