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Brazil's frontrunning presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro was stabbed in the abdomen (pictured) during a campaign rally in Minas Gerais state on Thursday.
The controversial ultra-right wing legislator – who has a commanding lead in the first poll conducted after former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was banned from running – underwent surgery to treat a wound to the liver, a campaign spokesperson told BNamericas, adding that his life is not in danger.
Video images broadcast on TV and on Twitter showed the moment when the candidate, riding on the shoulders of a supporter in the middle of a crowd the city of Juiz de For, was stabbed by an apparent stranger who was quickly apprehended.
Federal police have arrested a 40-year old suspect identified as Adélio Bispo de Oliveira and are investigating the attack, a police spokesperson told BNamericas. The federal police provides a security detail to candidates during their official campaign rallies.
A former military man, Bolsonaro has made crime fighting the main focus of his campaign, and has called for arming the population to combat criminals. He also wants to help former members of the armed forces become lawmakers.
"The attack will be a positive for Bolsonaro in the polls. This will reinforce his central narrative to combat crime, allowing guns for citizens, as he was a victim of an attack. Even his rejection rate may decline, increasing his chances in the second round," David Fleischer, emeritus professor of political science at the Universidade de Brasília, told BNamericas.
An Ibope institute poll released before that attack showed that Bolsonaro has 22% of prospective voters, followed by Marina Silva and Ciro Gomes, both with 12%, and Geraldo Alckmin, with 9%. Silva and Gomes have condemned the attack against Bolsonaro and demanded an investigation.
This was the first poll conducted since the country's top electoral court decision late Friday barring Lula from the race. The charismatic former leftist leader is serving a prison sentence for corruption.
The Ibove poll also has Bolsonaro with a 44% disapproval rate, the highest of all candidates. In fact, Silva, Gomes and Alckmin would beat Bolsonaro in a potential runoff.
Brazilians go to the polls to vote for president, state governors and legislators on October 7. If presidential and state governor candidates fail to reach more than 50% of valid votes, a runoff will take place on October 28.
HEADWINDS FOR MARKET-FRIENDLY CANDIDATE
Alckmin, a former three-term governor of São Paulo, the country's richest and most industrialized state, is considered the most market friendly candidate of the race – and the one likely facing the strongest headwinds.
Alckmin was accused by São Paulo state prosecutors of received illegal payments from embattled construction conglomerate Odebrecht to finance past elections campaign.
The candidate denies any wrongdoing, a campaign spokesperson told BNamericas.
Meanwhile, federal police filed a report earlier this week to bring up corruption charges against President Michel Temer, which could lead to his suspension from office.
The report says there is evidence indicating that Temer received around US$300,000 in bribes from Odebrecht.
Temer, whose terms ends on December 31, has survived two previous corruption charges levied against him.
WORKERS' PARTY CANDIDATE
Amid the impossibility of fielding Lula as its candidate, the leftist workers' party (PT) is expected to tap former São Paulo mayor Fernando Haddad, currently the VP candidate on its ticket.
Ibope's survey showed Haddad in fifth place, with 6% of prospective votes. And in a potential runoff against Bolsonaro, Haddad would be defeated.