Brazil’s far-right candidate Bolsonaro remains leading in poll

A supporter of Jair Bolsonaro in São Paulo

The most recent opinion polls show far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro in the lead, raising concern about his far-right economic policies and social reforms, which-while popular with investors-will undermine Brazil's vaunted social welfare programmes. Instead, he gave an interview to TV Record at the same time.

Bolsonaro's support in polls is nearing 40 per cent ahead of Sunday's election.

The PSL candidate will now face leftist Workers' Party (PT) rival Fernando Haddad in a runoff election on October 28, where the former is widely expected to win. The Datafolha firm had Bolsonaro up one point at 36 percent and Haddad unchanged at 22 percent since a previous survey two days ago.

In a last push on Thursday, Bolsonaro told a radio station in northeastern Brazil, where his support is weakest and Haddad's is the strongest, that he would put the army to work to help finish some major infrastructure projects long stalled in the region, and said his presidency would invite partners from all parties, including the PT.

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Even political rivals conceded that Bolsonaro's odds are improving.

Haddad's support relies on the popularity of his mentor, jailed former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who was barred from running due to a corruption conviction.

Earlier, in a live speech over Facebook, Bolsonaro rejected accusations he was racist, sexist and homophobic, though he has faced charges for hate speech against these groups. His vows to loosen gun laws and declare war on drug gangs have thrilled his supporters and terrified his critics.

Supporters of presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro attend a demonstration pro Bolsonaro in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil September 29, 2018.

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The signs that Bolsonaro is gaining momentum led Brazil's stock index up to a near five-month high and its currency to its strongest level in nearly two months on Wednesday.

The strength of Bolsonaro's "straight talk" campaign has boosted similar candidates - not least of all his own sons Eduardo, Flavio and Carlos, who are also running for parliament and local government positions- in the South and Southeast, where the retired captain has the voters' preference.

However, former army General Oswaldo de Jesus Ferreira pledged to keep state oil giant Petroleo Brasileiro SA, known as Petrobras, in government hands.

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