Jair Bolsonaro Elected President of Brazil
On Sunday the 28th, Jair Bolsonaro was elected as the new president of Brazil. Described by many as “far-right,” he defeated his left-wing opponent by a significant margin: 55 percent of the popular vote. Brazilian media has described 2018 as the “most divisive election in the country’s history.” The rise to prominence of intensely nationalistic, right-wing parties and world leaders has been a trend since before Donald Trump in 2016 and could spell significant changes to the geopolitical landscape in the coming years.
Bolsonaro ran under the “Social Liberal Party,” however despite the name being associated with left-wing progressivism in American politics, it is actually one of the most right-wing mainstream parties. When it was founded in 1994, it was similar to in ideology to the Libertarian Party in the United States, advocating both economic de-regulation and socially-progressive cultural values. However, when Bolsonaro entered the party in 2018, it began adopting further right social policy while retaining its staunch views on economic privatization and de-regulation, making it more similar to the Republican Party. Bolsonaro’s entrance to the party actually prompted an entire wing of the particularly socially-liberal to leave the party.
After his election, Bolsonaro reportedly received messages of congratulations from Italy, Mexico, the US, and even Venezuela’s President Maduro, an ardent far-left socialist whose views are diametrically opposed to Bolsonaro’s. However, not all were so pleased. Virtually every mainstream news article in the West was quick to decry Bolsonaro, with a slew of opinion pieces either blaming the typical right-wing “fear and anger” as worded by the Guardian, or what Slate Magazine describes as “false news,” a term slightly altered from “fake news” originally used to explain the election of Donald Trump before Trump himself began to use it as an epithet for the mainstream left-wing media.
Conspicuously neglected by those outlets were any sincere reasons why Bolsonaro won, namely the frustration of the incumbent party’s lack of progress. The 57 million Brazilians who voted for Bolsonaro had concerns of the nation’s shifting cultural values, sluggish economic growth following its recent recession and uncertainty with their nation’s place in the world diplomatically were all valid reasons to doubt the policies of the party in power, and caused them to search for someone offering a radical shift from the norm, often with memories of better times in the past.
So long as the opposing voices against people like Bolsonaro, Duterte, and Trump choose to dismiss, condescend and de-legitimize the concerns of the voting public rather than listen and work to improve their behavior, more people like those three will win.
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