Brazil: Lula and Bolsonaro go blow for blow in the first debate

“Little dictator”, “national shame”: the attacks rocketed between Lula and Jair Bolsonaro yesterday, Sunday, during the first televised debate bringing face to face the two opponents of the second round of the Brazilian presidential election, in two weeks.

This debate, which lasted less than two hours on the Bandeirantes channel, was heated at times, but the tone was nevertheless less aggressive than during those which had taken place before the first round, in the presence of other candidates.

Former left-wing president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (2003-2010) showed himself to be more to his advantage at first, with in particular harsh accusations of “negligence” by Jair Bolsonaro during the Covid-19 pandemic.

But the current far-right head of state recovered towards the end, with spades on the theme of corruption, in particular the vast scandal around the public oil company Petrobras.

“Both candidates had ups and downs, but overall, President Bolsonaro did better most of the time,” facing a “nervous” Lula, political scientist Christopher Mendonca told AFP.

“Lula, you should go home, enjoy life, rather than coming back to the scene of the crime. You are a national disgrace!” Launched Jair Bolsonaro, lambasting the “corruption in abundance in Brazil” during his opponent’s two terms.

Lula, for his part, did not hesitate to call the outgoing president a “little dictator”, accusing him in particular of wanting to increase the number of judges of the Supreme Court to weaken the judiciary.

But his most virulent attacks have focused on the management of the health crisis.

“Because of your negligence, more than 680,000 people died of Covid in Brazil, while more than half could have been saved”, launched the ex-president on the left, referring in particular to the delays in the purchase of vaccines .


“Lula, stop lying, a man of your age!” Later dropped Jair Bolsonaro, 67.

“You are the king of false information, the king of stupidity,” retorted Lula, 76.

Jair Bolsonaro also accused the former steelworker of “not having the slightest concern for the poorest”, congratulating himself on having had exceptional expenses approved, amounting to 600 reais (around 97 euros) monthly allowances paid to the poorest families. more humble.

But the debate, with a new format which allowed the two candidates to circulate freely in the studio, was also marked by moments of humor.

After an awkward silence, Jair Bolsonaro, smiling, briefly put his hand on Lula’s shoulder.

In the process, the latter affirmed that his adversary was his “bean” before becoming his sworn enemy: “I was shown a lot of speeches from you speaking well of me when you were a deputy and I was president”.

Lula won 48.3% of the vote in the first round, against 43.2% for the far-right president.

The electoral campaign was marked by virulent attacks between the candidates and their entourages, who did not hesitate to launch accusations of cannibalism, pedophilia or links with organized crime.

Subtle provocation

Jair Bolsonaro was lambasted by the left-wing opposition on Saturday for recounting that an “atmosphere was created” when he met young underage Venezuelan women in the street in a poor district of Brasilia, implying that they were prostitutes.

Faced with the deluge of criticism aroused by these statements, the Brazilian president assured that he had “always fought pedophilia”.

Lula, he played the provocation by wearing on his suit jacket a brooch with the logo of a campaign against the sexual abuse of children and adolescents.

The president of the Superior Electoral Tribunal, Alexandre de Moraes, ordered on Sunday that videos associating Jair Bolsonaro with pedophilia be removed from the main social media platforms, the remarks of the president being, according to him, “taken out of context”.

Lula would win the second round of the presidential election, which will take place on October 30, with 53% of the votes cast against 47% for Jair Bolsonaro, according to a Datafolha poll published on Friday.

The second round promises to be hotly contested in this extremely polarized election and the two candidates have striven to rally political support and try to convince the undecided by pursuing an intense campaign throughout Brazil.