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All Over but the Shouting: Engaging Brazil after the Elections

Bolsonaro

(Image: Bolsonaro’s Facebook)

October 29, 2018

Elections have consequences, and Brazil’s elections on October 28, 2018, are particularly consequential. By an overwhelming margin, Brazilians elected Jair Bolsonaro, who is often described as a far-right, law and order populist, to lead Latin America’s largest democracy, now deeply polarized, through turbulent economic times. His resounding defeat of Fernando Haddad of the left-wing, deeply corrupt Workers Party (PT) gives a mandate to the president-elect and his vocal supporters to yank Brazil onto a different social path, while emphasizing a strong hand against corruption and a fierce attack on the overwhelming crime wave that has overtaken major urban areas.

The candidate appears to hold views that can charitably be described as anti-democratic. A former military officer and long-time if undistinguished legislator, Bolsonaro has mused publicly about the benefits of a return to dictatorship, spoken in favor of torture, and threatened the national Congress. Just prior to the election his son suggested it would be easy to close the Supreme Court. At a rally in the campaign’s final days, Bolsonaro said in reference to his Worker Party opposition, “We’re going to have a cleansing . . . and wipe these red thieves off the map. Either they leave the country, or they go to jail.” His greatest hits as a legislator include dedicating his vote to impeach a previous president to the jailer who tortured her. Among other morsels, he also claimed that a fellow legislator was too unattractive for rape...

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