Brazil’s Bolsonaro, Lula face off in last debate before vote
BRASILIA, BRAZIL – In last Sunday’s general election, the world’s oldest democracy had one of its closest, most closely fought races for president.
A record number of candidates — 12 by Tuesday’s count, according to the official election results — vied for the chance to take the presidency. Brazil’s voters chose ex-dictator Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the former Communist Party firebrand whose socialist roots helped him rise from the lower classes to become Brazil’s first elected president.
Lula’s candidacy, however, didn’t come without a cost.
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Lula, who is now 83, lost to far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, who finished fifth and made a brief blip on the radar screen of the world’s media but has since lost much media visibility.
In the presidential debate, Bolsonaro criticized many aspects of Lula’s time in office, from rising Brazil’s real minimum wage to a more generous pension system.
Still, Bolsonaro was the only opposition candidate to get close enough to Lula to debate him in a one-on-one format.
Bolsonaro spoke at length in the first of several times he has spoken to the nation and the world since his political debut nearly two weeks ago.
And his candidacy remained controversial long after his election in the wake of a video in which he appeared to threaten to remove a political opponent, former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who was in jail awaiting trial for corruption.
Although far rightists and moderates took opposing sides in the presidential race, the outcome meant the emergence of Brazil’s first far-right, Bolsonaro.
So Rousseff’s government has been hit with a series of scandals. And the left-leaning Workers’ Party, which backed Lula, suffered its worst showing ever in the country’s last election in 2014.
After the debate, Lula acknowledged the possibility of the two men running for office again. But he called for the debate to be