Two weeks before the general elections in Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, a candidate for re-election, has left on a trip abroad. The president turned the first stop – in London, to attend the funeral of Isabel II as a representative of Brazil – into an electoral rally despite the fact that the United Kingdom is experiencing a solemn mourning. Before paying tribute to the monarch along with other heads of state, Bolsonaro played Bolsonaro: he improvised a speech before a group of followers in which he proclaimed that he hopes to win in the first round and stopped at a gas station to record a video to broadcast on networks . The second stop is the UN, in New York.
At home, the criticism was immediate. For his lack of manners, for using public money for personal and electoral purposes and even for abuse of power. Criticisms similar to those heard a couple of weeks ago when he also transformed the bicentennial of Independence into a political act on Copacabana beach.
While Lula hastens the last days to appeal to the useful vote in the hope of getting enough support to win in the first round on October 2, Bolsonaro has decided to hang up his statesman’s suit. The president accepted the invitation to attend the funeral of the queen of England on Monday and will then fly to the United States to participate in the annual UN General Assembly. The far-right is confident that the photograph of him surrounded by international leaders and kings weakens the discourse that, during his mandate, Brazil has suffered notable diplomatic isolation.
Accompanying him on the trip is his wife, Michelle, an evangelical who has assumed great prominence in this electoral campaign, and Pastor Silas Malafaia, his main religious ally. The leader of the Assembly of God Victory in Christ accompanied the presidential couple in the solemn moment of paying their respects before the remains of the late monarch to the outrage and stupor of Brazilians.
As soon as he landed in London as a guest at the funeral, Bolsonaro was received by supporters at the residence of the Brazilian ambassador. He went out to the balcony and from there he proclaimed, pointing to those present, dressed in the colors of the national flag: “There is no way we won’t win in the first round.”
Bolsonaro, who has been sowing doubts about the voting system for months, now maintains that the electoral polls are not reliable either. An idea that has permeated a good part of Bolsonarism. The crowds he gathers at his public events would be proof that the polls lie when they say that Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, of the Workers’ Party (PT), is in the lead with a 12-point lead. The president would be preparing the ground to contest the results if they are not to his liking.
Join EL PAÍS to follow all the news and read without limits.
And on his way to pay his respects to the late queen at Westmister Hall that same Sunday, Bolsonaro, wearing a mourning tie, stopped at a gas station to record a video comparing the price of gasoline there and in Brazil, where it costs half. The reduction of fuel prices is one of his electoral banners.
Lula criticized his opponent in these elections for attending the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II but not deigning to say goodbye to any of the more than 600,000 victims of covid-19 or comforting their relatives.
Subscribe here to the EL PAÍS América newsletter and receive all the key information on current affairs in the region.