Dangerous times in Brazil

Brazil holds its elections on Sunday and the most significant position is that for the presidency that pits the incumbent right wing extremist Jair Bolsonaro against leftist former president Inacio Lula Da Silva. Bolsonaro is very authoritarian and is currently behind in the polls but has said, like Trump, that he can only lose if there is cheating and that he will not leave office quietly. His supporters are saying that they will not accept any other result than a Bolsonaro victory. If no candidate gets an absolute majority on Sunday, there will be a run-off election on October 30th.

Bolsonaro is in many ways like Trump but while I wrote that it was always unlikely that the US military would go along with any attempted coup by Trump after he lost, that is not the case in Brazil. Bolsonaro is a former officer and has maintained his ties to the military and has, like Trump, given ex-military people important positions in government. Brazil had a US-backed military coup in 1964 and the military stayed in power until 1985. This history of military rule means that the concept of a military takeover is not unthinkable. Bolsonaro during his presidency also greatly relaxed gun ownership laws and that has led to a very large number of people now owning weapons. He also, like Trump, has a hard core of fanatical supporters who believe his outlandish claims, and might be perfectly willing to unleash violence if Bolsonaro urges them on, like Trump’s followers on January 6th.

All the signs point to Lula winning the plurality easily but not getting the majority needed to avoid a run-off.

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has widened his lead over incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, less than a week before one of the most divisive presidential elections in Brazil’s history.

A Genial/Quaest poll released on Wednesday showed Lula, who served as president from 2003 to 2010, with a 13-percentage-point lead over his far-right rival.

Recent polls indicate that the former left-wing leader could beat Bolsonaro in the first round of voting on Sunday.

The survey put support for Lula at 46 percent in the first round, compared with 33 percent for Bolsonaro – up from 44 percent for Lula and 34 percent for Bolsonaro a week earlier.

In a potential October 30 runoff, Lula’s lead rose to a 14-point advantage, from 10 points a week ago, the poll found.

Brazil remains tense in advance of the upcoming vote, as experts have raised concerns over election-related violence should Bolsonaro refuse to accept defeat.

All these are ominous signs that the period between the first round and the October 30th run-off could be very turbulent.

In last week’s episode of his show, John Oliver tells us what is going on with Bolsonaro and Brazil.


  1. txpiper says

    “If Lula defeats Brazil’s far-right incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro, Latin America’s seven biggest economies — Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela, Chile and Peru — will soon be run by leftist and ultra-leftist leaders. In addition, several smaller economies, such as Bolivia, Nicaragua and Honduras, are also led by leftist or far-left presidents.*

    An average of recent polls suggests that Lula will win Sunday’s election with at least 45% of the vote, followed by Bolsonaro with 33%. If no candidate reaches 50% of the vote in this first-round election, polls show that Lula will most likely win a runoff held Oct. 30. Bolsonaro is centering his campaign on Lula’s conviction on corruption charges in 2017. He received a 12-year sentence, but had served only 19 months in prison when a federal judge ordered his release.

    There are three main reasons why a Lula victory is not likely to mark a return of a powerful leftist regional bloc like the one that dominated Latin America’s politics in the early 2000s.

    First, most of the region’s leftist-ruled countries are in deep financial trouble. [How odd?] And with China’s economy falling fast, they can no longer expect it to give them huge rescue loans in exchange for political influence.

    Unlike the early 2000s, when Latin American commodity prices were at record highs and former Venezuelan populist leader Hugo Chávez crisscrossed the region promising to build massive infrastructure projects, most of the region’s current leftist leaders have no funds to help their political allies abroad.

    Oil-rich Venezuela, which before the Chávez regime was one of Latin America’s richest countries, has become one of the region’s poorest. And most countries in the region are facing rising U.S. interest rates, making their debts more expensive to pay, and a weakening global economy that depresses their commodity exports.”

    *places people want to leave in order to have a better life

  2. John Morales says

    txpiper, it seems to me you’re trying to insinuate that it was “leftism” that caused the problems. Reality is that it was economic mismanagement and corruption that did the job. USA sanctions did not help.

    Apart from the sanctions, it’s similarly economic mismanagement and corruption that is causing the problems in Brazil.

    Authoritarianism fits into both political stances, in other words.

  3. seachange says

    I dunno what tubed ground beef looks like where you are, but here in Southern California on the package the fine print they say where the chopped up random cow bits comes from. Brazil is often listed.

    It’s profitable to obliterate by conflagration the rainforest to meet unitedstatian demand for beef. Authoritarianism is a tool to make money.

  4. says

    There are three main reasons why a Lula victory is not likely to mark a return of a powerful leftist regional bloc…

    One reason being that Lula isn’t really all that “leftist?”

  5. Silentbob says

    @ 5 Holms

    Yes. These days I find this most often manifests as the hard right equating simply not hating trans people with “trans ideology” (which, of course, is not an actual thing, anymore than ‘left-handed ideology’).

    We heard earlier about the connection between transphobia and the swing to the right in Europe:

    Earlier this year she outlined her priorities in a raucous speech to Spain’s far-right Vox party: “Yes to the natural family, no to the LGBT lobby, yes to sexual identity, no to gender ideology…”

    And to no one’s surprise, Bolsonaro is as transphobic as any TERF:

    More than any other government in Latin America, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration has orchestrated a federal policy to limit equal rights for LGBTIQ people.

    “Bolsonaro destroyed what little we had and went on a purge of the existing trans policies,” said professor Marco Aurélio Máximo Prado, of the Federal University of Minas Gerais.

    Courses to combat prejudice among teachers are no longer offered, outpatient clinics for trans people have been defunded, and the National Council against LGBT Discrimination has been scrapped. The life expectancy for trans people in Brazil is just 35.

    Anyway, yes you are right that reactionaries like TERFs or other conservatives consider treating minorities as equals as being “hard left”, and use terms like “trans activist extremists” to mean, “treating trans people with the same rights, respect, recognition and acceptance as anyone else”.

    Let us shun these people wherever we find them.

  6. Holms says

    …And as demonstrated ably by Silentbob, there are plenty on the left that have the same mentality as I described in #5 but reversed. That is, not being far left = far right. Silliness abounds.

  7. says

    @8: Actually, given that everyone to the left of Maggie Thatcher (including Queen Elizabeth II, go bloody figure) tends to be labelled “far left” these days, it is indeed fair to say that anyone who hasn’t had that label slapped on them at one time or another is, most likely, far right.

  8. Holms says

    “anyone who hasn’t had [far left] slapped on them at one time or another is, most likely, far right.” Then paint me red and call me a commie, I’ve been called that more times than you’ve had hot dinners.

    [You realise I highlighted that thought process as irrational, right?]

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