Brazil’s Polarizing Elections

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Brazil’s Polarizing Elections

Brazil’s President-Elect, Jair Bolsonaro, will assume office on January 1st, 2018.  (Adriano Machado/Reuters)

Brazil’s President-Elect, Jair Bolsonaro, will assume office on January 1st, 2018. (Adriano Machado/Reuters)

Brazil’s President-Elect, Jair Bolsonaro, will assume office on January 1st, 2018. (Adriano Machado/Reuters)

Brazil’s President-Elect, Jair Bolsonaro, will assume office on January 1st, 2018. (Adriano Machado/Reuters)

Luiza Decenzi, Reporter

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Around the world, people have been tuning into Brazil’s 2018 presidential election due to the overwhelming polarization of the country.

One of the largest mass and populated countries, as well as one of the ten highest economies in the world, Brazil may appear lucrative and successful. However, a corruption investigation has led to political and public disturbance.

Beginning with an inspection of large transactions of money at Petrobras, the largest Brazilian company, the scandal developed into the uncover of endorsements in return for artificially inflated contracts.

Among the imprisoned is former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, known by the public as ‘Lula’, who was sentenced to twelve years in prison for aiding executives to sign public contracts in return for a beachfront apartment.

Lula’s successor from the same political party, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached due to the illegal movement of funds between budgets. With low approval ratings according to polls, Vice President Michel Temer implemented a constitutional amendment to restrain public spending for twenty following years.

The 2018 presidential election set the population in turmoil once again. On one end of the political spectrum stood Fernando Haddad, former Mayor of São Paulo, who took over PT’s presidential candidacy after Lula was deemed ineligible to run for office in August 2018.

On the other end stood Jair Bolsonaro, a right-wing congressman and former Army captain. Elected in 1990 for a lower chamber of Congress as a member of the Christian Democratic Party, Bolsonaro was in office for twenty-seven years. He has disputed abortion, homosexuality, secularism, and conservative values.

Gabriela Nascimento, a sixteen year old activist from São Paulo, stressed, “An election based in pure desperation and hate, people are so angry that is easy to vote for someone that reflects that hate, especially when you are not the target.”

Bolsonaro joined the Social Liberal Party, choosing his Vice President as retired Army general Hamilton Mourão. Their campaign launched with basis on family values and law enforcement.

Bolsonaro set himself as a political outsider, attracting many with his goals of lowering violent crime rates, tax cuts, reduced government spending, and pro-development stand. Nascimento expressed her thoughts on the matter, “He presents superficial projects or extremely radical ones that clearly would only work for a small percent of the population.”

Moreover, inflammatory and controversial ideas spurred the public’s polarization even further, who worried about misogynistic, racist, and homophobic statements. “I was shocked, not only by his abusive and absurd speeches but mostly by the fact that there was a significant amount of people that applauded his words,” Nascimento stated. Laura Brisotti, a twenty year old Brazilian preparing for pre-med school in Bauru, São Paulo, had a different understanding of the situation,

“He is more of a sensationalist than anything else, and I believe he is a person truly unhappy of the way he expresses his opinion.”

His popularity spiked on September 6th, when he survived a stabbing during a rally. His injury required bed rest, inducing the rise of his social media presence, where he accumulated millions of followers.

Thirteen candidates faced each other in the first round of the general election on October 7th.

The outcome displayed a majority in favor of Bolsonaro and Haddad.

As to her perspective on the election, Brisotti reflected, “I don’t believe it’s healthy for the same party to be in government for 16 years and reach 20 years.”

The second election occurred eleven days later, consisting solely of the two candidates with the greatest number of voters. With an eleven percent margin between candidates, Bolsonaro swept fifty-five percent of the popular vote. “Bolsonaro winning the election represents the instisfaction of the people, the disbelief in the system,” Brisotti evaluated.