Brazilian presidential front-runner stabbed at campaign rally

Jair Bolsonaro

Brazil's right-wing presidential frontrunner Jair Bolsonaro was seriously injured when he was attacked with a knife while campaigning yesterday, his son has said.

In an article past year calling him "Brazil's Donald Trump", The Economistdescribed Bolsonaro as a "religious nationalist and former army captain, he is anti-gay, pro-gun, and an apologist for dictators who tortured and killed Brazilians between 1964 and 1985".

Under Brazil's campaign laws, Bolsonaro's tiny coalition has nearly no campaign time on government-regulated candidate ad blocs on TV and radio. Former environment minister Marina Silva and left-wing candidate Ciro Gomes each have 12 per cent. Mr Fernando Haddad, Lula's likely substitute, has 6 per cent. Brazil will hold general elections next month.

Jair Bolsonaro is the front-runner and he is in a hospital bed, while the only person thought to be able to beat him is Lula - and he is in a prison cell.

Congressman Bolsonaro, who has enraged some Brazilians with controversial comments but has a devout following among conservative voters, could take two months to recover and will spend at least a week in hospital, said Dr Luiz Henrique Borsato, who operated on the candidate.

Bolsonaro's rivals in the race expressed outrage at the attack.

He is seen flinching and then goes out of view.

He was manhandled and beaten by angry supporters of Mr Bolsonaro before being taken into custody.

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Despite being a long-serving member of Congress, Bolsonaro has successfully presented himself as an outsider, untouched by the corruption scandals engulfing so much of the political elite. Naturally, this makes the US media hate him.

Sometimes described as Brazil's Donald Trump, Mr Bolsonaro has a huge social media following of 8.5 million people.

"They made Bolsonaro a martyr", said Jonatan Valente, a student who joined a small vigil for Bolsonaro in Sao Paulo.

The attack "will turn into a dispute between the left and right", said Mauricio Santoro, a political science professor at Rio de Janeiro's state university.

It was not the first incident of political violence this year.

In 2015, he was fined for saying that Congresswoman Maria do Rosario was "not worth raping". In 2011, he told Playboy magazine that he would be "incapable of loving a gay son" and that he'd prefer such a child of his "to die in an accident".

He is now being investigated for alleged racism over derogatory remarks he made about Afro-Brazilians. "He will win in the first round", he said. Lula appealed the electoral court decision that denied his candidacy, but on Thursday, Brazil's Supreme Court rejected it, effectively putting an end to the former president's hopes.

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