Brazil Expected to Elect Far-Right Candidate in Presidential Election
Brazil is set to elect far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro as president in the second round of elections on Sunday. His victory would cement the rise of populism in the country.
Bolsonaro, a right-wing congressman, is leading in the presidential race against Fernando Haddad, the leftist ex-mayor of São Paulo. Recent polls show Bolsonaro ahead with 56 percent of the vote, while Haddad trails at 44 percent.
Brazil has been rocked by corruption scandals among its leftist presidents in recent years. Former president Lula da Silva is serving a 12-year sentence for corruption, and Dilma Rousseff, his successor, was impeached for corruption and manipulation of government funds. The result has been a Brazilian population that is distrustful of politicians and the left.
Bolsonaro, a retired military captain, has garnered popularity throughout the election by promising to crack down on crime, a sentiment that resonates strongly with Brazilians as violence and homicide rates continue to skyrocket. The congressman is known for making incendiary and controversial comments, drawing comparisons to President Trump. Bolsonaro has expressed support for the military regime that previously ruled Brazil for 21 years.
Bolsonaro won the first round of elections earlier in October but did not receive the 50 percent-plus-one needed to avoid a runoff election.
The campaign has been characterized by violence, as Bolsonaro’s supporters have attacked journalists and threatened violence against Supreme Court justices.
His campaign has also been reliant on social media. Bolsonaro frequently uses Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp to propagate his government proposals, which include the loosening of gun laws and the dismissal of Paulo Freire’s education principles from schools.
At a campaign rally in September, Bolsonaro was stabbed in the stomach, leading to a three-week hospital stay, from where the candidate released social media videos to continue campaigning. His popularity rose as he began to be associated with the idea of a wounded hero.
His candidacy is not without opponents: many women’s groups in Brazil do not support Bolsonaro, and frequently demonstrate against him. Others fear the rise of populism in Brazil will bring back the military dictatorship. International governments, news organizations, and even celebrities have spoken out against Bolsonaro, fearing his election could mean the rise of authoritarianism and the demise of one of the world’s largest democracies.