Brazil’s Bolsonaro looks at polls at Queen’s funeral, UN meeting

Brazil’s Bolsonaro looks at polls at Queen’s funeral, UN meeting

BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — Brazil’s election is just two weeks away, but President Jair Bolsonaro has decided to pause his campaign and leave the country for a four-day international trip.

The right-wing leader arrived in London to attend Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral on Monday and planned to open the United Nations General Assembly in New York the following day.

Allies hope Bolsonaro’s trip will sway some voters, give him some clout after nearly four years of rifts with other world leaders and provide material for television ads.

Bolsonaro trails former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in the polls, with the other candidates far behind. Leftist da Silva, who ruled from 2003 to 2010, hopes to win 50% of the vote on October 2 and avoid a runoff against the incumbent.

Bolsonaro declared three days of national mourning in Brazil following the death of Britain’s 96-year-old monarch, and the funeral will be Bolsonaro’s first official visit to the UK. He met the new monarch, King Charles III, during a trip to Japan in 2019.

At the time, Bolsonaro described Charles, a keen environmentalist, as “a person who, like the rest of the world, is wrong about the Amazon.” Bolsonaro’s government is often accused by environmentalists of not working to stop deforestation in the Amazon region and of ignoring environmental crimes there.

After the funeral, Bolsonaro was due to travel to New York to maintain the tradition of Brazilian presidents being the first to address the assembly.

According to Brazil’s Foreign Ministry, Bolsonaro’s speech in New York will likely have an electoral approach as well as elements suggested by Brazil’s diplomatic team.

“He is the head of state and government, but also a candidate for re-election. This separation is necessary, but not always perfect,” said Brazil’s ambassador to the UN, Paulino Neto.

Bolsonaro himself made clear the links between the election and his foray abroad, speaking at a campaign rally on Friday in the southern state of Parana.

He told his supporters that he must pay homage to Queen Elizabeth to represent Brazil. “And every day, Brazil interacts and integrates with other countries around the world. Brazil is a fantastic country, everyone wants to do business with us,” he said.

Oliver Stunkel, professor of foreign affairs at the Getulio Vargas Foundation in Sao Paulo, said Bolsonaro wants to show voters that he is not isolated from international leaders. And he said Bolsonaro’s conservative base, which includes monarchists, would be happy to see him at the royal funeral.

“What Bolsonaro wants is to … show that he can provide some stability and predictability in terms of values ​​and answer the criticism that he is isolated in the world,” Stuenkel said. “And New York will give him a world stage. It will make headlines for a few days.”

____ Savarese reported from Sao Paulo.

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