Steve Bannon endorses far-right Brazilian presidential candidate

(Reuters) - Former Trump White House adviser and conservative firebrand Steve Bannon said on Friday he was endorsing Brazil’s far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, hoping he could win Sunday’s vote and contribute to a global populist tide.

“Captain Bolsonaro is a Brazilian patriot, and I believe a great leader for his country at this historic moment,” Bannon said in a text to Reuters about the former military officer.

Bolsonaro’s team has courted Bannon’s support and his son Eduardo tweeted in August about visit with him in New York.

“We had a great conversation and we share the same worldview,” wrote Eduardo Bolsonaro, the top-voted congressman in Brazil, above a smiling photo by his side. He said they planned “to join forces, especially against cultural Marxism.”

Opinion polls point to a decisive win for Bolsonaro in the run-off vote against his leftist rival Fernando Haddad on Sunday. The tough-talking right-wing lawmaker has successfully pitched himself as the one to clean up a corrupt political establishment and crack down on crime.

“The populist movement is a global phenomenon,” Bannon told Reuters in an interview this week. “The trend is definitely in our favor and that’s why I think Bolsonaro will win big.”

After leaving the White House, Bannon has been throwing his weight behind far-right politicians in Europe and elsewhere in an attempt to shake up the global order. However, he said he was not working for Bolsonaro’s campaign.

Bannon, the chief strategist of Trump’s 2016 campaign, said he saw similarities between the political and economic forces that elevated Bolsonaro and that swept his former boss to power.

“He’s a figure like Trump,” Bannon said of Bolsonaro, who took 56 percent of voter intentions in the Datafolha poll released on Thursday, compared to Haddad’s 44 percent.

It was the 2008 financial crisis that “lit the fuse that exploded with Donald Trump’s candidacy and his presidency,” Bannon said in the interview earlier this week. “Brazil is going through that type of crisis now.”

Reporting by Nathan Layne in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and David Gregorio