After months of bitter campaigning, far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro is to be Brazil’s next President. At age 63, he won 55% of the vote against his opponent Fernando Haddad, 55.
Haddad is from the Socialist Workers’ Party, Brazil’s dominant political party since 2002. Former Presidents from the Workers’ Party include the beloved Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, or simply Lula, and Dilma Rousseff. The latter became the world’s first female democratically elected President to be impeached back in 2016.
Her impeachment was part of the larger Petrobras corruption scandal and the subsequent Operation Car Wash to remove corrupt politicians. Both Lula and Rousseff have been jailed as part of this. Haddad was even an Education Minister under both.
Brazil has also seen a rise in violent crimes in recent years. In 2016 the country saw 29.9 homicides per 100K. Compare this to 1.2 homicide per 100K for the U.K. This can be attributed to drug gang rivalry as Brazil borders some of the biggest cocaine-producing countries in the world.
Bolsonaro’s anti-corruption and pro-military stances have naturally struck a chord with voters. He has pledged to liberalise gun-ownership laws, allow police officers and military personnel to shoot suspected criminals on sight and has threatened political rivals accused of corruption to leave Brazil or face jail time.
Haddad has been very successful in the Northeast of the country where his party’s welfare policies have dug millions of people out of poverty.
Nicknamed the ‘Trump of the Tropics’, the evangelical Bolsonaro has been a member of Brazil’s Congress since the early 1990s. Throughout this time he made a name for himself through various controversial public statements. These include, but are not limited to:
To a fellow Congresswoman in an argument: “I would not ever rape you because you do not deserve it!”
“I would be incapable of loving a homosexual child. I’d rather have a son of mine die in an accident than appear with a moustache next to him.”
“[Afro-Brazilians] get nothing done. I think they are not good even for breeding anymore!”
These hateful comments and extreme policies have unsurprisingly sparked numerous protests. The feminist Ele Não movement emerged in order to prevent a Bolsonaro win and urged Brazilians to vote for Haddad. Bolsonaro himself was even stabbed at a campaign event by a man who alleges he was on a “mission by god”. He managed to continue campaigning from his hospital bed via video and social media.
South America is a region of the world where left-wing governments have historically been successful. With Brazil being a potential superpower, the election of a far-right candidate will no doubt have repercussions for the continent and the world. Exactly what those will be will only become clear when Jair Bolsonaro assumes office on the 1st of January 2019.