Right-wing presidential candidate leading in Brazil polling, poised for win

A worker in Rio de Janeiro helps load electronic ballots on a bus for distribution to electoral zones.

Sao Paulo, Brazil (CNN)Brazilians on Sunday will elect the country's next President amid one of the most polarizing and violent political campaigns in its history.

This comes as the country of 200 million people continues to suffer from a prolonged recession, rising insecurity, and a massive corruption scandal that rocked political and financial institutions.
Far-right congressman Jair Bolsonaro is leading the polls ahead of Fernando Haddad, a leftist ex-Sao Paulo mayor. A recent Datafolha poll showed 56% of voters are likely to vote for Bolsonaro, with 44% supporting Haddad.
    Bolsonaro won the first round of the elections this month amid a field of 13 candidates. But he fell short of the 50% needed to win outright and avoid a runoff against Haddad, from the Workers' Party.
    "This has been an unprecedented election," said Marco Antonio Teixeira, a political science professor at the Getulio Vargas Foundation. "The rhetoric used by both candidates throughout the campaign has been extremely aggressive."

    Politically motivated violence

    That hostility has carried over into the streets. Dozens of politically motivated acts of violence have been registered by voters, journalist and politicians.
    Bolsonaro, 63, was stabbed in the stomach last month during a rally in the city of Juiz de Fora, in Minas Gerais state.
    The incident took him off the campaign trail for weeks as he recovered. But it strengthened his position among Brazilians looking for a change.
    Others fear the election could lead to more discrimination and hate crimes.
    Bolsonaro's increased visibility prompted a social media backlash known as #elenao, or #nothim, which has gained support throughout the country and internationally.
    During his Brazil tour, Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters exhibited the slogan on stage in neon lights and chanted "ele nao" with the crowd.
    Protesters have also taken the chant to the streets during a recent "Women Against Bolsonaro march" in Sao Paulo.
    "Bolsonaro has opened a Pandora box," protest organizer Luka Franca said. "He's given a voice to an ultra right population who want to voice their prejudice and annihilate anyone who is different."

    Ugly rhetoric

    Bolsonaro, who has been compared to US President Donald Trump and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, has stirred controversy by making misogynistic, racist and homophobic remarks.
    He once told a congresswoman that she did not deserve to be raped because she was "very ugly," Brazil's TV Globo reported.
    He also said publicly he'd prefer to see his son "die in an accident" than a member of his family be homosexual.
    "This negative discourse he's spreading is killing people," Felipe Lago, a 29-year-old fashion producer told CNN. "If he wins, who knows what will happen to us?"
    A banner promoting Workers' Party presidential candidate Fernando Haddad during a rally in Brasilia.
    Lago created an Instagram account called "elenaovaoinosmatar," or "he won't kill us" in English, shortly after being verbally assaulted and threatened by a group of Bolsonaro supporters for being gay.
    "Although I was scared, I decided to post what happened to me on Facebook," Lago said. "I got a lot of responses from friends and others saying the same thing happened to them."
    His Instagram account has more than 100,000 followers and includes videos of others who say they experienced similar assaults.
    In their final days on the campaign trail, both Bolsonaro and Haddad asked their supporters not to engage in violence.

    'Fake news' scandal

    Laura Chinchilla, the head of the Organization of American States mission of observers for the Sunday election, said she worries about a fake news "phenomenon" seen throughout the campaign.
    "The phenomenon we see in Brazil may be the first of its kind, essentially because it's different from other electoral campaigns in other countries," Chinchilla told local media Thursday in Sao Paulo.
    Whatsapp shut down a number of accounts following an investigation by Brazilian daily Folha de Sao Paulo that found companies were buying mass text messaging packages to blast users with negative campaign ads on their phones.
    Most of the campaigns targeted Haddad's Workers' Party, Folha de Sao Paulo reported.
    Supporters of Jair Bolsonaro demonstrated on Sunday in Sao Paulo.