Bolsonaro and Lula accuse each other of lying in Brazil presidential debate


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SAO PAULO — Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro faced off in their first one-on-one debate on Sunday, two weeks before the second round of the presidential election.

Debates in the first round of elections featured several other candidates, none of whom garnered more than 5% of the Oct. 2 vote. During the debates, they were largely distractions from the two obvious favorites.

On Sunday, the two men repeatedly called each other liars during a meeting that lasted around 1.5 hours. The term was used more than a dozen times by each of the candidates in the TV Band debate, which was otherwise less aggressive than many analysts had expected.

“You are a liar. You lie every day,” da Silva said in an exchange. Bolsonaro often said, “You can’t come here to tell people these lies.

Earlier this month, da Silva, universally known as Lula, won the first round of elections with 48% of the vote to Bolsonaro’s 43%. Polls indicate the leftist former president, who ruled between 2003 and 2010, remains the frontrunner, although his lead has narrowed considerably.

Each candidate has focused on issues that polls show represent their opponent’s weak points: for Bolsonaro, the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed 680,000 Brazilians, and for da Silva, the corruption scandals involving his Workers’ Party.

Da Silva and Bolsonaro are expected to take part in another debate, a few days before the vote, on TV Globo, Brazil’s most popular channel.

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