Brazil's bitter rivals attack each other in second head-to-head debate — the grand finale of a brutal campaign marked by months of mudslinging, negative ads and a flood of disinformation, ahead of Sunday's run-off elections.
Far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro and leftist ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva have repeatedly slammed each other as liars in a final debate that touched on the economy, corruption and foreign policy only two days before Brazil's run-off elections.
"Brazilians know who the liar is," said Lula on Friday night, as the two locked horns over minimum wages and the leftist's history of corruption allegations, sticking to the personal attacks and themes seen throughout the campaigns.
"Stop lying Lula, stop lying. It's getting ugly," said Bolsonaro.
The bitter rivals were taking part in their second head-to-head debate — the grand finale of a brutal campaign marked by months of mudslinging, negative ads and a flood of disinformation on social media.
Although Lula holds a small lead in the polls, pundits say the race could still go either way — making the debate a high-stakes final showdown as the rivals battle for every last vote.
The debate was being broadcast live on TV Globo, Brazil's biggest network.
Bolsonaro once again attacked Lula over his history of corruption allegations, which remains the leftist's Achilles' heel with many voters.
READ MORE: Brazil election turns into holy war as Lula, Bolsonaro woo religious voters
'Arab world welcomes me'
Lula was the country's most popular president when he left office in 2010, helping lift millions out of poverty with his social welfare programmes.
But he then became mired in a massive corruption scandal and was jailed for 18 months before his convictions were thrown out last year. The Supreme Court found the lead judge was biased, though Lula was never exonerated.
"With me you will have safety, you will have honesty. There won't be theft. Do you want me to give more examples of corruption Lula? Or can we move on," said Bolsonaro.
Lula at one point called Bolsonaro "unhinged" and slammed the "insane behaviour" of his government over the past four years.
Bolsonaro, 67, is seeking re-election after a first term in which he was accused of mishandling the pandemic. It was marked by vitriolic attacks on his perceived rivals, ranging from the judiciary to women and foreign leaders.
"You isolated Brazil. Today Brazil is more isolated than Cuba. You don't have a relationship with anyone. No one wants to receive you. No one comes here," said Lula, 77.
Bolsonaro laughed off the accusation.
"We have a lot going on. The Arab world welcomes me with open arms. I spoke to (US President Joe) Biden a while back. I talk to everyone. Stop lying, Lula."
Bolsonaro boasted of decreasing employment and inflation when Lula came for him on economic issues.
"Lies Lula! Do I have to perform an exorcism on you to get you to stop lying?"
Bolsonaro's hardline conservative fans love his focus on "God, country, family and freedom."
He repeated accusations that Lula was an "abortionist" who wants to legalise drugs. Lula reiterated that he was in fact anti-abortion — a delicate issue in socially conservative Brazil.
READ MORE: Brazil voters bombarded with misinformation ahead of presidential run-off
'Whole system is against me'
Bolsonaro also referred to his renewed attacks on the electoral system, which he has said is plagued by fraud, warning he will accept defeat only if there is "nothing abnormal" in the election.
Many fear a Brazilian rerun of the Capitol riot that rocked the United States after the 2020 election loss of Bolsonaro's political role model, Donald Trump, who on Friday urged Brazilians to vote Bolosanro to power.
Bolsonaro's campaign has already alleged "electoral fraud" before the vote, claiming 150,000 of Bolsonaro's publicly funded campaign ad spots were blocked from the radio.
Top electoral judge Alexandre de Moraes threw the case out Wednesday, ruling it unfounded.
"The whole system is against me," Bolsonaro said during the debate, as he accused Lula of having friends in the superior elections court known as the TSE who keep ruling against him.
While Lula remains ahead in the polls, Bolsonaro's strong support means many see the race as too close to call.
READ MORE: Brazil's potential left win: a sign of public defiance, bad news for US