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  • Benício Schmidt


Presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, according to all opinion polls available, will be elected president of Brazil this coming Sunday (10/28/2018). It is not an absolute certainty, but a very high probability.

  • Which are the main and brief reasons of this electoral success?

Bolsonaro has been in congress for 27 consecutive years, with erratic votes on economic, social and human rights policies. In general, an inconspicuous career, nothing too notable to make him an important reference in the political scenery. He has personal attributes typical of a person who dwells in the universe of “salvationism”, typical of Brazilian and Latin-American populism.

After 14 years of hegemonic government by PT (Labor Party) presidencies, it was clear that organized political forces anchored in conservative tendencies and values, rebellious to excesses in the administration of the State and motivated to recover the dynamism of the brutally deteriorated economy since 2014, would flourish. It is the cultural phenomenon that has provoked an international movement in favor of more liberal forces in economy and archaically conservatism in culture and societies, especially in regards to human rights of minorities in the process of conquering these rights.

Even if strongly protected by military support, always alert to “corrections of course” of the dominance of civil powers over the State, the National Congress and the Judiciary, the candidate had, in his favor, the colossal deterioration of the left, represented by the PT’s hegemony and especially by the centralizing warlord style of its top leader, the current prisoner (Lula da Silva).

With this material available, Bolsonaro plays defense, and does not participate in public debates, neither before nor after the attack that almost killed him; in addition to freeing up his inner circle and family members to make unconstitutional, arbitrary proposals and, especially, permanently disallowing his economic team coordinated by the well known and liberal economist, Paulo Guedes. In other words, the expression of a real and plausible government program, he offers a contradictory proposal, without intelligible analytical basis and without providing any assurance, be it to the population in general, or the central economic agents. A mystery in an unclear progress.

Lastly, it should be highlighted that his great support comes from the mistakes of his opponents. Months before his prison, Lula led rallies to provoke the judiciary throughout the process of Operation Car Wash, that ended up victimizing him, as well as his allies during his years in power. Irritations and conflicts aside, this encouraged him to repeat the performance, putting judges and courts under the spotlight and creating in the public opinion a sentiment of discouragement and denial of democratic institutions throughout the country. This is the current situation.

The opposition to Bolsonaro was not able to create a Popular and National Coalition to oppose him in a more rational territory and that would be capable of carrying out more effective dialogues with the public. The polls, for example, pointed towards the growth of candidate Ciro Gomes, a seasoned congressman, a public manager, who would be able to offer an alliance with Lula’s replacement in PT and, therefore, more effectively represent the real and concrete Brazilian dilemmas.

The then still powerful PSDB (Social Democratic Party of Brazil) pushed forth a well-known candidate, with experience, but who threw himself in the arms of a “centrist” coalition of conservative, patrimonial and rent seeking inclination. Doomed for failure, this hypothesis was confirmed when the ballots were counted, and demonstrated insignificant numbers, confirming that the expectation of more TV time and media exposure (radio and TV) would not be enough to overcome the work done in social media, the great novelty of this electoral event. The rest is history.

For the runoff, and in an erratic manner due to the ideological and opportunistic conflicts within PT, the Popular Coalition was attempted. All the probable protagonists declined the invitation due to electoral calculations because of the coming elections for mayors and, also, because they doubted the ability of the PT to lead a collegial management.

Thus, a candidate with limited personal expression, surrounded by conflicting interests that point to a liberal economic policy, which contains traces of obvious statism, xenophobia, with an social policy which is outdated and packaged in intolerance typical or authoritarian orientations is imposed, gradually, with tolerance to licentiousness before the scary violence present in Brazilian society and an erratic attack to Brazilian institutions. We have already plunged into experiences of this nature (e.g. João Goulart, Fernando Collor de Mello, etc.), with tragic outcomes. However, this time the cooperation of the adversaries is a strong feature.

Only time will tell.

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