A consortium of Brazil’s biggest mainstream media announced that a presidential debate would be held on September 14, with the top four candidates in the polls.
The announcement comes days after CNN Brasil suspended its debate scheduled for August 6, after former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and President Jair Bolsonaro – the only candidates voting above 10% – declined invitations. TV Bandeirantes, which traditionally opens the debating season in Brazil, moved its clash from August 14 to 28 in order to win time and get the favorites to join.
President Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly declared that he will only appear for the debates before a possible second round of elections – as Fernando Henrique Cardoso did in 1998 (Mr Cardoso ended up winning in the first round) and Lula in 2006.
Both Lula and Mr. Bolsonaro are said to have imposed conditions on broadcasters to participate in the debates, infuriating their other competitors. For example, Mr. Bolsonaro wants to avoid being confronted with questions from “hostile” journalists. He and Lula want the media to come together to limit the number of debates.
Surveying well ahead of the competition, Lula and Mr Bolsonaro plan to limit their exposure to criticism, believing they have more to lose by participating in the proceedings. The centre-left former president wants to avoid bad press and land a landslide in the first round, while Mr Bolsonaro needs to improve his image with voters in order to force a second round.