September 9, 2018 / 3:24 PM / 2 months ago

Brazil's far-right presidential contender improving after stabbing

FILE PHOTO: Brazilian presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro reacts after being stabbed during a rally in Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais state. Bolsonaro was knifed in the stomach while being carried atop supporters' shoulders in a street rally. REUTERS/Raysa Campos Leite

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - The health of Brazil’s far-right leading and poll-leading presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro was markedly improved after he was stabbed last week at a campaign rally, the hospital where he is being treated said on Sunday.

Bolsonaro, 63, remains in intensive care as the perforations of his intestines keep doctors watching for any internal infections. In a written statement, the Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo said he was spending more time out of bed, but still receiving food intravenously.

Thursday’s knife attack against Bolsonaro further complicated Brazil’s most unpredictable election in three decades. Corruption investigations have jailed scores of powerful businessmen and politicians in recent years, infuriating voters.

Bolsonaro has for years angered many Brazilians with extreme statements on race, gender and sexual preference, but is also seen by his many supporters as an outsider who could clean up a broken system.

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 Lisa Shumaker

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