On the 18th October this year, the election of the far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro to president-elect of Brazil shocked the world; however, within Brazil, it didn’t come as such a surprise – a contrast to Trump’s victory in 2016. We interviewed a normal Brazilian student, Miguel, who gave us his opinion about the social and political situation in his country which brought Bolsonaro to power. Though he is not a political scientist, his insight gives a rawer look at the Brazilian population’s true stance, and his opinions are certainly very interesting.
Although Brazil is the 8th power by GDP, it is currently in a very bad situation. Miguel explained to us that having 10 thousand dollars in Brazil means being one of the richest people in the country. This awfully negative status is worsened by the economic gap between the north and the south of the Latin American country, the north being a great deal wealthier than the south.
This problem is also due to generations of politicians who have mis-governed the country and nearly brought it to bankruptcy so as to fund their illegal and corrupt activities, the main culprit being the former president, Lula.
According to Miguel, Bolsonaro won because he is a symbol of change; he represents a new entry who, without knowing anything about politics or economics, can govern honestly. In other words, in Miguel’s opinion, he won because he does not come from the traditional political circles – he is a homo novus who does not have hands stained by blood and money. This makes sense, of course, coming from a population who no longer trusts politicians. How could they?
So far, Bolsonaro wants to defend the Constitution and reistinate the rule of law. This may be admirable, but does he want to abolish freedom of press or restrict gay rights? Is he a fascist? According to Miguel, no. He is not a leader who is preparing to become a tyrant, despite his controversial policies, such as outlawing homosexuality. He does not want to set a totalitarian regime because he is “a liberal guy” who will keep the freedom in Brazil and kick illegal activities out of institutions.
This is the main reason why Brazilians voted for him.
His most loved proposal is his welfare policy, which relies on heavy public spending and economic stimulus by introducing a constant raising of public debt, which is already an enormous 78% GDP. He also plans to modify the retirement system and prevent rises in the budget deficit. Brazilians also like that he, a conservative, wants to preserve the traditional shape of Brazilian society, taking form, in part, by his attack on homosexuality.
Nevertheless, people chose him, according to Miguel, not because he is the idealistic president, but because when compared with the others, he is the least undesirable. Brazilians have never loved politics, something which subjected them to corruption and misgovernment; now, they finally believe they have chosen a candidate who at least appears to be a straight arrow.
This interview conveyed significant contradictions between what we read on European and American newspapers about Bolsonaro and the way Miguel perceives him. We weren’t told about his opposing candidates plan to reduce freedom of press, nor his wish to reintroduce torture. What does this say about the Western desire for influence on the rest of the world’s domestic affairs?
I would like to make a comparison between the Bolsonaro figure and the current Italian government. They essentially propose the same things: a unrealizable reform of the pension system (legge Fornero) and a general reformulation of welfare intended to boost the economy. In Italy, they want to stop immigration due to their belief that it damages society. As was true with Bolsonaro, people voted for Salvini and Di Maio because they were perceived to be the “least bad”, and, above all, because they are not linked to any corrupt activities – as was Berlusconi. I think this remarkable pervasion of the far-right into the world’s political landscape is really stunning and alarming; we must acknowledge this definitive pattern of motivations – motivations that ultimately led people to vote these politicians into power.