The Brazil 2018 election has seen populism emerge in South America. Jair Bolsonaro, the right-wing populist candidate, managed to achieve a staggering 46% of the vote in the first round of the Presidential Election. The election has come at a time when Brazilians want radical change after slow economic growth, and a rise in violent crime across the country. Although it is only the first round, most opinion polls have predicted that Mr Bolsonaro will edge the second round and become Brazil’s President.
This election had two radical choices; either a right-wing populist, or a hardcore left-wing candidate. Regardless of the second round outcome, the first round result has showed that populism’s momentum has not been halted, and Brazil could be about to witness a radical change of government and leadership!
Mr Bolsonaro’s Social Liberal Party is set to become the largest party in Congress of which the elections are being held at the same time as the Presidential elections. The second largest party, the Workers’ Party, is being blamed for widespread corruption and violence. Brazil is South America’s largest economy and the public expects better development and welfare improvements.
The party’s leader, Mr Haddad, scored 29% of the votes. He has portrayed himself as the sensible candidate who is deemed more trustworthy. It is no surprise to hear that he has been shocked by the first round results, but believes that he will make the most of the “golden opportunity” during the campaigning before the second round.
The leading candidate, Mr Bolsonaro, rose to fame and popularity because of his controversial statements on a wide range of issues. Some of his flagship policies include tougher punishments for offenders, and relaxing the laws regarding gun ownership. He also believes torture is a legitimate method, and wants to restore the death penalty.
Furthermore, Brazil is a deeply religious country, and he has strong views against abortion. Many international media organisations have labelled him the “South American Trump”, due to his conservative views, and also criticising the Paris climate agreement and using the phrase “Make Brazil great again”. His conservative views obviously mean that he has attracted the support from religious groups, as well as being a celebrity and he has even been endorsed by multiple Brazilian footballers!
The results show a divided country, as the majority of north-western Brazil supported the Workers’ party, because of the population’s benefit of their social policies. However, nearly 50% backed the right-wing candidate, and it will only take 3% more votes to cross the finishing line and claim victory! Regardless of who is victorious in three weeks, it is clear that a significant portion of the country will despise their leader. The two options for Brazil could not be further apart, and their policies will lead Brazil in a very different direction than the past 5 years.
Undoubtedly, this is another victory for populism. Over the last 2 years we have seen right-wing populism return to success. Brexit and Trump in 2016 was the starting pistol. Earlier this year we also saw populism winning in Italy and Sweden. It is clear that people all over the world are fed up and angry about the “political liberal elite” constantly governing yet they see no real change in their lives. Next year’s 2019 European Parliament elections will truly show how successful populism has been over the last few years. Congratulations to Mr Bolsonaro, and the Brazilian people for wanting radical change in their country!