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Bolsonaro’s imminent defeat

The Brazilian electoral process could come to an end in the first round this Sunday with a probable defeat of Bolsonaro. In this context, it is necessary to be alert for possible unforeseeable situations that may affect the election results.

According to political behavior, the voter decides his vote based on various stimuli, such as ideological affinity, which is part of political socialization. Other voters make projections based on the viability of the candidates’ promises, while others tend to evaluate the government’s management.

Throughout Bolsonaro’s government, an archaic vision coming from the military sector with authoritarian inclinations materialized. It is a vision influenced by the German thinker Carl Schmitt, where politics is based on the difference between friend-enemy, that which is different and must be fought and rejected. In this case, the communists.

To that vision of binary nature, converge ultraliberal groups and conservative religious groups that differentiate the good ones from the bad ones; where the bad ones are all those who wish to “destroy” a biblical vision of the family, with the “gender ideology” or a sexual education that dismantles their idyllic vision disconnected from reality.

On those terms, Bolsonaro divided the country. His ideological agenda did not translate into welfare for Brazilians, his speech was an apology for violence that could reasonably affect, the self-esteem of the most disadvantaged groups in the country, to direct violence toward them. Thus, the rollback of policies to combat racism and violence against women empowered individuals who have historically considered themselves to have power and can act with impunity due to their social, gender, or racial status. With Bolsonaro, the government deliberately acted to dismantle any action to protect the most vulnerable groups.

The management of the pandemic may have been the beginning of the Bolsonarism debacle. Although it is difficult to calculate the number of lives lost due to Bolsonaro’s denialist vision, it is certain that he tried to prevent the production of vaccines. Thus, in the face of absolute indifference before hundreds of thousands of deaths, the government continued systematically and deliberately to encourage contagion through the absence of prevention.

The greatest evidence of dismantling at the state level was the lack of protection for indigenous peoples and environmental policies. This was followed by the deliberate lack of control over deforestation and illegal logging, the incentive to illegal gold mining that multiplied river pollution, the liberalization of the use of pesticides prohibited in many countries, and the incentive to the invasion of indigenous lands to link them to agribusiness.

Economic management is another aspect that has a negative impact on support for the president. The pension reform approved in the government’s first year affected everyone, especially the middle class. On the other hand, consumption was affected due to the devaluation of the currency and high inflation, which made Brazil the fourth country with the highest inflation rate among the major economies in the world.

The mismanagement of the fuel policy raised the price of basic food baskets for several months. In Brazil, more than 125 million people have some vulnerability in terms of food security. In this context, Bolsonaro had to provide resources for the survival of the most vulnerable segments, and the attempt to use his own defeat as a political triumph did not favor him in terms of electoral support.

Other variables such as the weakening of those who are opposed to the Worker’s Party (anti-petismo) have also played against Bolsonaro. The conviction by the Supreme Court, which ruled that former judge Sergio Moro’s decisions were biased was one of the most shocking events. Sergio Moro became Bolsonaro’s minister after convicting Lula and preventing him from running for president in 2018. The Supreme Court’s decision restored Lula’s innocence.

In the last two months, the president’s credibility also lost strength after the unveiling of a long-standing corruption scheme involving the family with the purchase of 101 properties. Half of these houses and apartments were obtained with cash, calling into question the origin of the money and an evident intention to evade control.

This context explains the trend toward the defeat of President Bolsonaro. Either in the first or in the second round. In fact, in view of this foreseeable result, for months Bolsonaro has been activating the “fraud” discourse that seeks to disregard the electoral process. This narrative is linked to the frustration of the far-right voters who have been randomly deploying violence (including the death of opponents) in several regions of the country.

In this scenario and given Bolsonaro’s frustration and authoritarian inclination, the possibility of deliberate actions by the far-right to affect the results after the election must be taken into account. Brazil and its democracy face a great challenge.

Translated from Spanish by Janaína Ruviaro da Silva


Cientista Político. Profesor e investigador asociado de la Universidad Federal de Goiás (Brasil). Doctor en Sociología por la Univ. de Brasilia (UnB). Postdoctorado en la Univ. de LUISS (Italia). Especializado en estudios comparados sobre América Latina.


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