SAOPAULO (Reuters) – A front-running and far-right Brazilian presidential candidate began physical therapy on Saturday and remained in serious but stable condition after being stabbed during a campaign rally earlier this week, doctors and family members said.
Congressman Jair Bolsonaro, who is unlikely to return to the campaign trail before the Oct. 7 first-round vote, was being fed intravenously but was in “good clinical condition,” according to a written statement from the Einstein hospital in Sao Paulo.
The attack further complicates Brazil’s most unpredictable election in three decades. Corruption investigations have jailed scores of powerful businessmen and politicians in recent years, and alienated infuriated voters.
Bolsonaro, 63, has for years angered many Brazilians with extreme statements on race, gender and sexual preference, but is also seen by his many supporters as a politically incorrect gust of fresh air in a broken system.
Bolsonaro’s son, Flavio, on Saturday posted on his verified Twitter account a photo of his father wearing a blue hospital gown and sitting in a bedside chair with tubes coming from his arms and nose. The law-and-order candidate was making his trademark “guns up” gesture, with both his hands resembling pistols. Flavio wrote that his father was in physical therapy.
Police have a suspect in custody and say only that they are continuing the investigation and that no clear motive was yet known, though the assailant told police he stabbed Bolsonaro on Thursday on “orders from God.”
Surveys consistently give Bolsonaro, a member of the Social Liberal Party, around 22 percent in simulated first-round votes. However, those polls find he would badly lose to most rivals in the likely event of a runoff, which takes place if no candidate wins a majority in the first ballot.
(Reporting by Brad Brooks; editing by Diane Craft)