By Sam Schreiber ’20
Brazilian elections occur every four years, and usually contain all the drama that one would expect out of a political turnover. However, the 2018 Brazilian election has been significantly different and more crucial than the others that have come before it because of the miraculous uprising of far right congressman Jair Bolsonaro, who received over 55% of the vote on October 28.
The rise of a right wing movement is unlikely to surprise many, considering recent events across the world. With Australia’s Sebastian Kurz and our own Donald Trump all rising in prominence over the past two years, as well as many others, it is unsurprising that an anti-corruption, populist leader like Bolsonaro is coming to power in Brazil. While the idea of this may not be surprising to many of us, in Brazil it still is.
In a normal situation a candidate such as Bolsonaro would have never stood a chance. Luckily for him, Brazil is not in a normal situation. For the past four years, Brazil has been entangled in political chaos. With an economic recession resulting in the loss of three million jobs, a wave of corruption involving over two-hundred politicians and two record-breaking years of violence resulting in over 120,000 homicides, it is safe to say that Brazil is not in the best of places.
Bolsonaro has promised action on almost all of these issues, focusing primarily on ridding the country of its corruption. The savior of Brazil may seem like a fairytale story, but it is far from it. Bolsonaro has caused incredible controversy during his campaign due to his apparent outlandish behavior. Bolsonaro has expressed admiration for Brazil’s 1964 military dictatorship, told a fellow lawmaker she was too ugly to be sexually assaulted and called for his political opponents to be killed. Compound these with the number of other controversies tied to Bolsonaro’s name and you have the kind of hatred that resulted in his being stabbed in the streets during a rally on October 7. Bolsonaro’s attempted assassination is resonant with the recent discontent that many around the world have shown for him and his campaign. The hashtag #NotHim trended on social media in response to Bolsonaro’s promised attack on feminism.
Brazilian social action groups from all over came out in support of Bolsonaro’s opponent, Fernando Haddad. However, many saw him as unelectable due to his close ties to the Workers Party, whose founder was imprisoned on corruption charges just last year. Leading up to the election, Bolsonaro seemed untouchable, even with his long list of questionable acts. He has been likened to Trump, former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and even Adolf Hitler. With no clear competitor to his run, Bolsonaro was easily able to capture the majority of the vote. He has accomplished his goal of securing the presidency, and now it is up to him fulfill the various promises he made on the campaign trail and fight for the people of Brazil.