Brazilian politics. Why on Earth would anyone be interested in the Brazilian politics, when we have so much chaos going on in the world with the participation of major superpowers? I only found out about it thanks to an amazing Youtube video, showcasing the most ridiculous electoral campaigns that Brazil has ever had (well worth watching).
Turns out, the 5th largest country on Earth with a population of more than 200 million people is on the verge of a disastrous election. The country is holding its first election since the 2016 after the impeachment of former President Dilma Rousseff, following economic decline and a bribery scandal.
The elections will select the new president, the entire lower house (the 513-member Chamber of Deputies), two-thirds of the upper house (the 81-member Senate), State governorships and legislative houses.
That, my friends, means deciding the whole political discourse of a country.
On Sunday, October 7th, Brazil held the 1st round of elections that revealed as a leader Mr Jair Bolsorano from the Social Liberal Party (PSL), who is former military far-right congressman with a notorious reputation. The amount of love that this candidate has for military dictatorship shouldn’t be underestimated..
For those who don’t know him, let’s imagine somebody close to Donald Trump and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. He told to the Guardian that he’s a “Trump admirer”, and I wasn’t surprised when BBC called him “the Trump of the Tropics”. Of the 13 candidates, Bolsorano was able to get the vote of around 49 million Brazilians (46% of the total population).
The closest candidate to him was Fernando Haddad (who served as the Minister of Education 2005-2012 and the mayor of São Paulo 2013-2017) from the Workers’ Party (PT) with 29.3% of the votes.
Fun fact: one month ago, Haddad didn’t even know that he will be running for president and will be fighting with Bolsorano on the second round of these long-awaited elections. He replaced former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva as the presidential candidate, because the latter was banned from participating in the elections after being convicted of corruption and money laundering.
Regardless, the polls show that Lula “would win Brazil’s October presidential election if he was allowed to run”.
But going back to Bolsorano for a minute, it could be argued that this man is a representation of everything world leader shouldn’t be- sexist, homophobic, racist, and extremist.
You don’t believe me? Let’s look at some of his most famous quotes over the years:
- “I’d rather have my son die in a car accident than have him show up dating some guy.”
- “I’m pro-torture, and the people are too.”
- “I had four sons, but then I had a moment of weakness, and the fifth was a girl.”
He once said to Maria do Rosário from the Workers’ party, a female representative in Congress, that she was not “worth raping; as she is very ugly”. Then, he referred to black activists as “animals” who should “go back to the zoo”, and still, Ronaldinho and other Brazilian football stars endorse him.
He confessed to using money to have sex with people. He’s been repeatedly praising Brazil’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship. And last but not the least, he was threatening to take Brazil out of the Paris Agreement and weaken environmental regulations if he wins the October election.
Eventually, nobody knows, how we came to this. Because literally one year ago, when Forbes published an article about the top 5 favorites running for president, Mr Bolsorano was only the 3rd in the list, coming “at just around 15%.” Surprisingly, he could triple the expected results in one year and come up as an undoubted leader for the moment.
According to DataFolho Poll, his popularity rose once again, after the stabbing attack during his campaign in the city of Juiz de Fora. The second favorite, on the other hand, instead of trying to catch the moment and build his personal political brand and identity, tries to position himself as just Lula’s replacement.
The two candidates, Bolsorano and Haddad, will face-off in a second round of elections three weeks later, on October 28. It is, indeed a crucial time for Brazil to end the long chain of dictatorship, money laundering and corruption and put the country on the path of the democracy.
To understand why, after knowing how dangerous Bolsorano’s election may be, around 50 million Brazilians still prefer to choose him, we need to look at the roots of rising Nationalism all over the world, and not only in Brazil. Well, look around you. See how many superpowers and game-changing countries are, unfortunately, lead by extreme nationalists like Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un and Erdoğan.
Brazil has just officially ended its worst recession in the history. They have lost their hope in any kind of international institutions and organisations. They want to put their country and their nation first. According to the poll results done in November 2017, 95% of Brazilians believed Brazil were heading in the wrong direction with Michel Temer’s administration.
But going radical will not be a solution to all the problems that Brazil has. The election of Bolsorano will not put the country on the track of the recovery, but ultimately will aggravate the existing situation.
This piece solely expresses the opinion of the author and not necessarily the organisation as a whole. Students For Liberty is committed to facilitating a broad dialogue for liberty, representing various opinions. If you’re a student interested in presenting your perspective on this blog, click here to submit a guest post!