Who is Brazil’s New President Jair Bolsonaro?

Jair Bolsonaro
Jair Bolsonaro

Jair Bolsonaro will be Brazil’s next President after he won 55.1% of the total vote. He will take charge on the 1st of January, 2019.

Contrary to how the majority of the Western press has described him, he is not part of the new alt-right. The allusions made to his resemblance with Trump, Marine Le Pen, Geert Wilders, Nigel Farage, and Viktor Orban are misleading.

Bolsonaro is a far-right politician, that is a fact but his views resemble the political right of the McCarthy Years of the 1940s to all the way to the 1970s. As opposed to the alt-right that espouses racial nationalism, and economic protectionism, Jari Bolsonaro is a McCarthyist preaching the anti-Communist gospel.

He warns Brazilians of a takeover by North Korea or Venezuela and points out the need to eradicate communism. To this end, he takes a hard stance against crime, drugs, secularism, abortion, and even homosexuality.

On immigration, he opposes letting in Haitians, Africans, and the Middle Easterners. At on point, he even called them the ‘scum of humanity’, which is one reason why like many other far-right politicians, he polled well among the white male population.

Despite the high crime rate in Brazil, he wants to grant Brazilians the right to possess firearms.

On economic issues, his stance has changed radically. He is now 100% for capitalism and opposes state intervention in the market even though he has a clear record of supporting state stimuli by the previous governments.

Even though he claims himself an outsider, he was in the military during the brutal years of military dictatorship and has been a Congressman for 27 years.

The biggest threat Jair Bolsonaro poses is to the democracy in Brazil itself. He has expressed his contempt for the Brazilian democracy and argued that military dictatorship is the most effective way to rule even vowing to bring back some of the notorious torture techniques from the era of military dictatorship.

Talking about the torturous past of the military, he said that their only fault was that they tortured but did not kill. On crime, drugs, and empowerment of the military, his stance is similar to President Duterte’s.

On Foreign policy, he wants to move Brazil closer to the United States and has been by far the most pro-American candidate in the elections.

While praising Trump, he even vowed to move the Brazilian embassy to Jerusalem and wants to shut down the Palestinian embassy because ‘we don’t negotiate with the terrorists’.

His son who is likely to have a cabinet position argues in favor of severing all ties with Iran and Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela.

Despite electing a guy who even Marine Le Pen denounced, Brazilians are not to blame. The political elite of Brazil failed to pay attention to the issues facing the public. With corruption scandals coming up one after the other, the distrust in the traditional politicians has declined.

Even though technically Jair Bolsonaro is also a career politician, he has changed some of his policies and takes a harder stance than he would in the past to get the spotlight.

Although we know very little of sociology, we know enough that when faith in the older state institutions falters, people move closer to fascists. We saw it happening most clearly in Trump’s election, Brexit, Angela Merkel’s losses in recent German elections, and Italy.

The worst part about Bolsonaro’s election is the timing. Brazil is a young democracy. It doesn’t have the state institutions required to keep the powerful in check. With Bolsonaro’s election, the power of the executive is likely to increase while state institutions that want to play their rightful role could be stifled.

Bolsonaro, like Trump, said exactly what he would do and yet the people elected them. It makes for a fine conversation over the morality of the people but who could blame them when they have lived under oppression for so long?

The old system did not provide for them, of what use was it to them to keep it alive?

It is a bit of cliché to bring up the Nazis but much of Brazil feel the same way Germans did in the 1920s and 1930s. The faith in the traditional institutions has collapsed and you have a racist fascist who says he can fix it all if only we give him absolute power, what could go wrong?

If the EU bureaucrats don’t stop bullying the Greeks, we might see a similar demagogue rise to power with a mandate from the people. It will not be the Greeks to blame then, it will be the EU.

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