Brazilian left divided as far-right candidate cruises toward presidency

A supporter of Jair Bolsonaro, far-right lawmaker and presidential candidate of the Social Liberal Party (PSL), holds up a cardboard box depicting an electronic ballot box, during a demonstration in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in this October 14, 2018 photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 17 October 2018
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Brazilian left divided as far-right candidate cruises toward presidency

  • Haddad, a former PT mayor of Sao Paulo, has been unable to distance himself from the disdain many Brazilians harbor for the party’s role in corruption schemes revealed by investigators in recent years
  • Lula da Silva, is doing jail time for a corruption conviction. Videos of the event showed Cid Gomes was met with rowdy boos

SAO PAULO: Efforts to unite the Brazilian left against right-wing presidential front runner Jair Bolsonaro have snagged on internal squabbles, making it even harder to close a gap in opinion polls less than two weeks before the runoff election.
The latest poll, released by Ibope late on Monday, showed conservative firebrand Bolsonaro had a commanding lead over leftist rival Fernando Haddad, with 59 percent of valid votes against 41 percent for Haddad. The poll, details of which ran in newspaper Estado de S.Paulo on Tuesday, showed Haddad with a higher rate of “rejection” among voters ahead of the Oct. 28 runoff, due in part to dislike of his Workers Party (PT) even among fellow leftists. About 47 percent of people polled said they would never vote for him, compared with 35 percent rejecting Bolsonaro.
The bad news for Haddad came as efforts to attract the voters of Ciro Gomes, who came third in the first round of voting on Oct. 7 after a center-left campaign on the Democratic Labour Party ticket, devolved into a shouting match at a campaign event on Monday night.
At a rally in the northeastern state of Ceara, his brother and campaign manager Cid Gomes was called upon to formally endorse Haddad.
But Cid Gomes took the opportunity to call for a “mea culpa” over sprawling graft schemes orchestrated by leaders of the PT. The party’s founder, former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, is doing jail time for a corruption conviction. Videos of the event showed Cid Gomes was met with rowdy boos.
“You’re going to lose the election, and it’s your fault,” Cid Gomes shot back. “You morons! Lula is in prison!“
The PT held the presidency for 13 of the last 15 years and Lula remains beloved by many for his social policies, credited with easing the lives of the poor in one of the world’s most unequal countries.
Haddad, a former PT mayor of Sao Paulo, has been unable to distance himself from the disdain many Brazilians harbor for the party’s role in corruption schemes revealed by investigators in recent years.
Haddad has struggled to both stand by Lula, whom the PT considers an unjustly convicted political prisoner, and also acknowledge the party’s errors.
Bolsonaro, 63, a seven-term congressman who openly defends Brazil’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship, is pitching himself as the anti-establishment candidate and appealing to voters fed up with political corruption and violent crime.


Pelosi scrapped Afghan trip after Trump ‘leaked’ details

Updated 41 min 14 sec ago
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Pelosi scrapped Afghan trip after Trump ‘leaked’ details

WASHINGTON: US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday excoriated her political nemesis, President Donald Trump, for “outing” her commercial trip to Afghanistan after barring her from using a military aircraft, forcing her to scrap it entirely over security concerns.
The brawl between the no-nonsense Republican leader and the take-no-prisoners Democrat — who is now just two heartbeats away from the presidency — is the latest round in their shutdown showdown.
The federal government has been shuttered for four weeks over Trump’s insistence that a wider budget measure include billions of dollars for a wall on the border with Mexico — and Pelosi’s refusal to do so.
Their spat spilled into the diplomatic arena on Thursday when, after Pelosi suggested that Trump postpone his State of the Union address until the government reopens, the president grounded her military flight.
Pelosi accused Trump of being “very irresponsible” in breaching security protocol.
“We had a report from Afghanistan that the president outing our trip had made the scene on the ground much more dangerous because it’s just a signal to the bad actors that we’re coming,” she told reporters.
The administration strongly denies that it “leaked” any plans about the trip to a war zone.
“The idea we would leak anything that would put the safety and security of any American at risk is a flat-out lie,” a senior White House official said.
The US government shutdown, which has left about 800,000 federal workers without a paycheck, is now the longest in the country’s history — and there is no sign of a compromise.
The Office of Management and Budget reportedly issued a memorandum saying that “under no circumstance during a government shutdown” can a congressional delegation use government aircraft for travel.
However, Republican Representative Lee Zeldin led a delegation to Iraq and other countries since the shutdown began.
Pelosi’s office sounded off on the administration’s handling of her trip, which had not been announced for security reasons.
The State Department released an updated assessment stressing that Trump’s announcement of the Pelosi travel “had significantly increased the danger to the delegation and to the troops,” her spokesman Drew Hammill said.
“This morning, we learned that the administration had leaked the commercial travel plans as well.”
Democratic lawmakers have expressed outrage.
“As a former member of the Intelligence Committee who has traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan, disclosing ANY Members’ travel into a war zone is disgraceful and dangerous,” tweeted House Democrat Jan Schakowsky.
“This is unprecedented.”
Trump lashed out at Pelosi once again on Twitter, asking why she and other Democrats would leave the country “on a seven day excursion when 800,000 great people are not getting paid.”
And then his re-election campaign team released a tongue-in-cheek shutdown-related campaign fundraising request.
For a contribution of $20.20, a reference to the next election year, the campaign told supporters it would send a fake red brick to Pelosi and Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer — to build a wall.