Supporters hold flags as they attend a campaign rally for Brazilian president and re-election candidate Jair Bolsonaro in Juiz de Fora, Brazil, August 16, 2022. (REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes)

JUIZ DE FORA, Brazil: Former President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva leads all polls against incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, amid growing concerns over political violence and threats to democracy. Brazil’s presidential election campaign officially launched on Tuesday.

Da Silva, who served two terms as president from 2003 to 2010, already wears a bulletproof vest when he makes public appearances. According to his campaign, he was scheduled to speak at an engine factory on Tuesday morning, but federal police asked him to cancel the event over security concerns. He plans to run for the seventh presidential election at a Volkswagen factory in São Bernardo do Campo, a manufacturing city outside Sao Paulo, where he gained fame as a union leader.

Bolsonaro revisits the crossroads in the city of Juiz de Fora where he was stabbed by a mentally ill person during his campaign in 2018. But this time, instead of jumping into the crowd, Sound stays on top of his track.

Cléomar de Souza, founder of Dharma Politics, a political risk consultancy, said Da Silva’s visit to the automaker’s facility epitomized Brazilian symbolism.

“Lula evokes nostalgia, an element of the original 1989 bid, and alludes to the legacy left by the president,” de Souza told the Associated Press.

And Bolsonaro’s return to the place where he was stabbed is the same outsider Bolsonaro predicted in the wake of the corruption revelations that rocked the country and enabled the victory of the seven-term MP in 2018. An attempt to evoke a profile, said politician Mauricio Santoro. Professor of Science at Rio de Janeiro State University.

“For Bolsonaro, this is his image of himself as a dissident dissident candidate, and his assault on his life is central to that story,” Santoro said. For him, the man who stabbed him was not a ‘lone wolf’ but part of a political elite conspiracy against Bolsonaro.”

The competition in Latin America’s largest democracy is a clash of giants, with all other candidates falling far behind. Virtually all Brazilians are familiar with them, so the top two voting candidates are a known quantity, according to the latest polling firm Datafolha’s poll last month. Both have publicly garnered supporters for months, but were not allowed to solicit votes or broadcast advertisements from election officials. Not planned.

Despite a 2018 attack on Bolsonaro’s life, recent events have raised concerns that his supporters are likely to be involved in the attack. They surrounded da Silva’s car and unleashed verbal abuse, and in July one of them killed a local official of da Silva’s Workers’ Party in the city of Foz de Iguaçu.

Da Silva supporters have also been targeted. At a rally in June, a drone sprayed a foul-smelling liquid over a crowd, and another last month, a man detonated a homemade explosive containing feces. The perpetrators in both attacks were Bolsonaro supporters, according to social media posts reviewed by the AP.

“Lula canceled the first event, citing security risks, and that sort of swept all camps. said Professor Carlos Melo. Inspar University, Sao Paulo. “These horrifying events are now part of the Brazilian election, and that’s important.”

Mr. Bolsonaro is a strong supporter of guns and has eased restrictions during his tenure to allow his supporters to stock up on firearms and munitions. He repeatedly characterized the race as a battle between good and evil, asking supporters to pledge their lives for freedom when he launched his candidacy on 24 July.

His supporters frequently cite da Silva’s 580 days in prison after being convicted of corruption and money laundering. These beliefs forced da Silva out of the 2018 race and paved the way for Bolsonaro. They were first dismissed by the Supreme Court on procedural grounds, and later the Supreme Court ruled that the judges were biased and conspired with prosecutors.

The former army captain, who is again lagging behind in the polls, has sowed the seeds of concern that he could reject the results if he loses the October vote. Far-right leaders, especially in meetings with foreign diplomats, have raised unsubstantiated questions about the country’s electronic voting system, which has been in use since 1996. His claims elicited responses from hundreds of businesses and more than a million Brazilians last week, who signed two letters demanding that the country’s democratic institutions be respected.

When Bolsonaro’s candidacy was confirmed, Bolsonaro called on his supporters to flood the streets for Independence Day celebrations on September 7. On that day last year, he stood in front of tens of thousands of supporters. Analysts fear he is poised to follow former President Donald Trump and try to cling to power. is repeatedly stated.

On Independence Day this year, Bolsonaro announced plans for the military to parade down Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro. It remains unclear.

Human Rights Watch said on Monday that the campaign “will be a significant test of democracy and the rule of law in this country and in Latin America.” The non-profit group accused Bolsonaro of “aiming to undermine trust in the electoral system” and claimed that he “claimed to be unreliable without providing any evidence.”

“Candidates should condemn political violence and call on their supporters to respect the right of Brazilians to elect their representatives peacefully and to stand for election without fear,” he said.

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