Bolsonaro, Lula face off in final debate ahead of upcoming runoff vote

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro faced off with his opponent, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, on Friday during their final televised debate prior to their globally anticipated runoff vote this Sunday. 

Bolsonaro, the far-right wing leader who has often been compared to former President Donald Trump — and sometimes even called the “Tropical Trump” — traded blows with Lula, a leftist politician and former union leader. The pair found each other neck-and-neck following the general election on Oct. 2, in which neither candidate garnered 50 percent of the vote, resulting in the upcoming runoff. 

The debate was marred by a tense and often brash back-and-forth between the two candidates. Lula, who previously served as Brazil’s president from 2003 to 2010 and is looking to secure his third term, accused Bolsonaro of downplaying the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed almost 700,000 Brazilians. 

Lula also lambasted his opponent for the rise in organized crime seen in Brazil, as well as the harm that he said was done to Brazil’s international standing. “Brazil is more isolated than Cuba …. We have become a pariah,” Lula said, per The Guardian.

Bolsonaro, who reporters noted seemed visibly nervous, hit back at Lula, repeatedly calling him a liar and a crook. He additionally said called Lula’s former government a “champion in corruption.” 

While Bolsonaro has previously insinuated he may not accept the results of the election, he appeared to backtrack on Friday, saying during the debate, “He with the most votes wins.”