Brazil election still tight race after lead candidate stabbed

The threat of a second-round vote looms as no candidate appears to have enough to secure a majority

Workers' Party (PT) presidential candidate Fernando Haddad (C) gestures during a rally at Cinelandia Square in Rio de Janeiro on September 14, 2018.  Fernando Haddad has stepped into former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's shoes at the last minute after the jailed ex-leader finally dropped his bid for re-election.  / AFP / DANIEL RAMALHO

Brazil's far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, who is in intensive care after being stabbed at a campaign rally, maintained his first-round lead in the latest election poll on Friday, but a leftist rival from the Workers Party (PT) made solid gains.

In the Datafolha poll published by the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper, Mr Bolsonaro had 26 per cent, up two percentage points from the same poll published earlier this week - although this is within the survey’s margin of error.

Former Sao Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad, who took over as the PT's presidential candidate, jumped to 13 per cent, up 4 points.

Center-left Ciro Gomes stayed even with 13 per cent.

The September 6 knife attack against Mr Bolsonaro further complicated Brazil's most unpredictable election in three decades, with its most popular politician, jailed former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva who founded the PT, banned from running in the October 7 vote due to a corruption conviction.


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Mr Bolsonaro’s son, Flavio, told a Rio de Janeiro radio station this week that his father is in no shape for campaigning before the first-round vote, and that he will need more surgery in two months to reconstruct his intestine.

In this Sept. 8, 2018 handout photo provided by the National Social Liberal Party press office, presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro poses for a photo while sitting in his hospital room at the Albert Einstein Hospital, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The far-right congressman was stabbed on Thursday during a campaign rally. Bolsonaro, 63, suffered intestinal damage and serious internal bleeding, according to Dr. Luiz Henrique Borsato, one of the surgeons who operated on the candidate. (Flavio Bolsonaro/National Social Liberal Party via AP)

Brazilian assets have dropped and the currency has hovered near a record low in recent days on concerns that the winner of October’s contest would baulk at implementing crucial belt-tightening measures.

Investors are paying increasing attention to poll scenarios for a runoff, which will happen if no candidate obtains a majority of valid votes in the first round. The Datafolha poll showed Mr Bolsonaro would trail Mr Gomes, Mr Silva and Mr Alckmin in any second round, while Mr Haddad and Mr Bolsonaro would be in a technical tie, with the Workers’ Party candidate on 40 per cent and the former paratrooper on 41 per cent.

Presidential candidate Ciro Gomes arrives at the Eduardo Gomes International Airport in Manaus, Brazil, September 14, 2018.  REUTERS/Bruno Kelly

Bolsonaro’s rejection rating rose to 44 per cent from 43 per cent, the highest among all candidates, while Haddad’s also increased to 26 per cent from 22 per cent.

Mr Haddad is Lula's hand-picked successor to stand for the PT.

Datafolha interviewed 2,820 people across Brazil on Thursday and Friday for the survey, which has a 2 percentage point margin of error.