On Sunday, Brazil will hold a general election, and the far-right Jair Bolsonaro, a populist often compared to Trump, will almost certainly defeat his leftist opponent, Fernando Haddad of the Worker’s Party. How’d we get here?
Starting in 2017, Brazil has been rocked by an enormous corruption scandal (the investigation of which is called Operation Car Wash) whose domino effect reached Brazil’s political establishment, and resulted in the arrest and imprisonment of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in April. Lula had been leading in the polls by a large margin, despite the allegations of corruption, and kept running his campaign from jail until the courts ruled that he couldn’t in late August. In his place, the Worker’s Party put up his running mate, Haddad.
This opened the door for Bolsonaro and the Social Liberty Party. He rose in the polls on amped up rhetoric about harsher policing, a crackdown on crime, and vicious opposition to immigration, as well as support for striking down Brazil’s gun ban in order to allow citizens to ‘defend themselves’. His popularity was further strengthened when he was stabbed on the campaign trail, giving him big Bull Moose energy.
Bolsonaro also managed to run an effective social media campaign, and has been accused of using fake accounts to spread fake news, capitalizing on an opportunity to campaign before official campaigns were legally allowed to begin.
The confluence of corruption on the left, a huge spike in crime, and the arrival of a populist with a keen eye for internet influence has conspired to give Brazil a new, far-right government. The military, back from a hiatus on influencing the government, has backed Bolsonaro based on his mutual support of their military regime in the 20th century, all but assuring Bolsonaro’s victory.
Far-right strongman hates immigrants, loves guns, expresses love for the military, rails against corruption on the left, uses social media and false information to sweep into power. Oh and he’s a misogynist. Sound familiar? #fpf