Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro made his re-election bid official in October, giving him three months to close a double-digit gap and secure victory.
The Liberal Party approved Bolsonaro’s candidacy on Sunday during its convention at a stadium in Rio de Janeiro. The endorsement was widely expected and merely symbolic, given that the far-right president has been campaigning for months, touring the country to rally support and remind voters why they should not back his nemesis, leftist former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. .
“We don’t need another ideology that hasn’t worked anywhere else in the world. We need to improve what we have,” Bolsonaro said on stage, surrounded by ministers, former ministers, family members and other allies. “It is not easy, but one thing consoles me, it is not seeing a communist sitting in that chair of mine.”
Bolsonaro has tried to characterize the upcoming race as a battle between good and evil, echoing his campaign in 2018.
People formed long lines to enter the stadium, where the campaign tune “Captain of the People” was played repeatedly. Supporters were dressed in the national colors of green and yellow, although there were dozens of empty seats in the stadium, which has a capacity of around 13,600 people.
Several supporters of the president told The Associated Press that if Bolsonaro does not win, Brazil will follow Venezuela’s catastrophic example.
Lula leads all the polls as he did in 2018, until he was removed from the race due to a corruption conviction that was overturned last year.
Bolsonaro faces an uphill battle. A congressional investigation last year recommended that he and administration officials face criminal charges for actions and omissions related to the world’s second-highest death toll from the coronavirus.
A Datafolha poll released in June found that 47% of those surveyed plan to vote for Lula and 28% for Bolsonaro.