Election campaign in Brazil: plenty of insults and a scandal: President Bolsonaro and rival Lula deliver the first TV duel

The duel had been eagerly awaited: incumbent Jair Bolsonaro and his promising opponent Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva made massive accusations against each other in their first television debate before the presidential election in Brazil.

Election campaign in Brazil: plenty of insults and a scandal: President Bolsonaro and rival Lula deliver the first TV duel

The duel had been eagerly awaited: incumbent Jair Bolsonaro and his promising opponent Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva made massive accusations against each other in their first television debate before the presidential election in Brazil. In his opening statement, the ultra-right Bolsonaro called Lula a "thief" and accused the left-leaning former president: "His government was the most corrupt in Brazil's history." On several occasions he referred to him as an "ex-convict".

Lula was imprisoned between April 2018 and November 2019 following a conviction on corruption and money laundering charges. In 2021, however, he regained all political rights after the Brazilian Supreme Court overturned the sentences against him.

Lula countered that he was "much cleaner" than Bolsonaro because he was found innocent by the Supreme Court, explaining that he was "just imprisoned for political reasons" so Bolsonaro could win the election. The Labor Party (PT) politician also listed the anti-corruption measures he took during his tenure.

Lula ruled Brazil from early 2003 to late 2010. He lifted millions of people out of poverty with social programs. The country also boomed economically. However, corruption continued to spread in the region's largest economy.

In the TV duel, Lula referred to the social reforms from his period of government and also spoke at length about protecting the environment - especially the Amazon rainforest, the destruction of which, according to data from the Brazilian space agency INPE, had reached a record in the first half of the year. Bolsonaro is now in the process of "destroying" the country, according to the 76-year-old. Both candidates accused each other of lying.

In addition to Bolsonaro and Lula, four more of the 12 presidential candidates took part in the three-hour debate, including ex-Finance Minister Ciro Gomes from the centre-left PDT party and Senator Simone Tebet from the centre-left MDB party.

Bolsonaro caused an uproar in the debate when he responded to a question from journalist Vera Magalhaes to one of the other candidates with massive allegations against her. Magalhaes had asked Ciro Gomes : "The vaccination rate has fallen sharply in recent years. To what extent could the misinformation spread by the President have aggravated the Covid pandemic?"

Bolsonaro then said, addressed to Magalhaes, "Vera, one could not expect anything else from you. I think you think of me when you fall asleep. You have a certain crush on me." He accused her of "false accusations" and said: "You are a disgrace to Brazilian journalism."

When Simone Tebet joined the journalist and accused Bolsonaro of misogyny, the president also attacked the senator: "You are a disgrace to the Federal Senate and I don't attack women," he railed. "Don't come up with this story that I attack women to victimize myself."

In fact, Bolsonaro regularly attracts attention with misogynist statements. When his daughter was born, he apologized in a speech for this "attack of weakness". He told a left-wing MEP that she was too ugly for him to rape and he made fun of French President Emmanuel Macron because his wife Brigitte is almost 30 years older than his own wife.

During the corona pandemic, Bolsonaro repeatedly downplayed the infection as "flu", rejected contact restrictions, distance rules or face masks and even publicly questioned the point of vaccinations: You could turn into a crocodile with them, he said.

Polls put Lula ahead of Bolsonaro ahead of the first round of elections on October 2nd. According to a survey by the opinion research institute Datafolha, the ex-president can count on 47 percent of the votes, while the 67-year-old incumbent can only count on 32 percent. If none of the candidates wins more than 50 percent of the votes in the first ballot, a runoff will be held on October 30.

Quellen: "Correio Brasiliense", "Estado de Minas", ntv, DPA, AFP

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