SAO PAULO — The stabbing of Jair Bolsonaro, one of the leading candidates in Brazil's presidential elections, has thrown the race into disarray, making an already unpredictable contest even harder to call. Here's a look at the five top contenders, according to polls:
With former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva barred from running by electoral authorities, Bolsonaro leads the polls. The former army captain has tapped into deep unease in Brazil, which is reeling from a sweeping corruption scandal and is struggling to grow again after a protracted recession. Bolsonaro has expressed nostalgia for the 1964-1985 military dictatorship, has been repeatedly fined for offensive comments and has made cracking down on crime a centerpiece of his campaign. But his proposals and his fiery rhetoric have often repulsed as many Brazilians as they have attracted.
He garnered 22 percent support in an Ibope poll released earlier this week. The poll, which has margin of error of 2 percentage points, interviewed 2,002 people between Sept. 1 and 3. Because a court has officially barred da Silva, Ibope did not include his name in this poll. Previous polls from a variety of agencies put the former president well ahead of Bolsonaro.
Silva, who once served as da Silva's environment minister, has a dramatic personal story: She suffered numerous illnesses and often went hungry as a child. She didn't learn to read and write until her teens. Silva nearly upended the last presidential race when her party's candidate died during the campaign and she took his place. She initially surged in polls, tapping into voter discontent and attracting Brazilians on both the left and right.
Back then and to this day, however, Silva has struggled to define herself, beyond her focus on environmental issues. She is tied for second place in the Ibope poll, with 12 percent support.
The left-leaning Gomes has roots in da Silva's stronghold of the northeast and brings extensive experience, having served as governor, mayor, minster and federal congressman. He would be prepared to navigate the halls of power in Brasilia from Day 1, yet also appeals to voters who are disgusted with dirty dealings so common in Brazilian politics, touting the fact that has remained clean, despite decades in public service.
Still, Gomes has struggled to unite the left — he also 12-percent support — and he has a reputation for being prickly and saying controversial things.
A three-time governor of Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest and richest state, Alckmin has a lot of executive experience. At a time when deteriorating public security is of growing concern to many voters, Alckmin can run on the city of Sao Paulo's remarkable reduction in its murder rate. He is a conservative who supports market-friendly economic policies, like scaling back the country's faltering social security system, making him the darling of investors.
But Alckmin lacks charisma, and Ibope put his support at 9 percent.