BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil's far-right President Jair Bolsonaro launched his re-election campaign on Sunday, telling thousands of cheering supporters that opinion polls were wrong and he is sure to win this year's election that pits good against bad.
Bolsonaro faces a tough challenge to win re-election against his political nemesis, leftist former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Many Brazilians are angry at Bolsonaro's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, rising inflation and high fuel prices. Lula, whose Workers Party (PT) governed Brazil from 2003 to 2016, maintains a 13-15 point poll lead over Bolsonaro.
"A false poll published a thousand times will not elect a president," Bolsonaro said in a nationalistic speech to supporters dressed in yellow and green colors of Brazil's flag. "I am certain of victory because I have an army at my side, and this army is made up of each of you."
Bolsonaro will stand for the conservative Liberal Party, which said it was launching his "pre-campaign" as official campaigning has yet to start for the October election.
Bolsonaro said his government has successfully cut red-tape, including the easing restrictions on the possession and carrying of guns, which he said has reduced violence in Brazil.
Last week, he again criticized the country's electronic voting system that he says is vulnerable to fraud that could rob him of victory, renewing fears he could refuse to accept defeat like his political idol former U.S. President Donald Trump.
"What we want is to deliver a country in the future, well into the future, that is much better than the one I received in 2019," Bolsonaro said at the event in Brasilia. "This isn't a fight of left versus right, it's a fight of good against bad."
Riding a Harley-Davidson motor bike away from the event, 53-year-old Cristiane Sade said Bolsonaro was a patriot and better president than Lula.
"He does not take public money to finance leftist ideas that are very nice in theory but never work in practice," she said.
(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; editing by Diane Craft)