Brazil’s new president is making changes for the worse

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Starting in the new year, Brazil’s new president-elect Jair Bolsonaro will take office. Elected in late October, Bolsonaro is a member of the Social Liberal Party, a right-wing conservative party in Brazil. This is the first time since 1985 that Brazil has elected a far-right candidate.

Bolsonaro is a former military officer, and has served on Brazil’s chamber of deputies. He has made controversial comments towards women, the LGBTQ+ community, has endorsed Brazil’s former dictatorship, is avidly against political correctness and has stated that environmental law enforcements will be retracted. Many are calling him “Brazil’s Donald Trump” for these reasons.

Unsurprisingly, Trump has expressed joy over Bolsonaro’s election, and has even stated that he plans on working closely with the far-right leader.

Even with Bolsonaro’s extremist sentiments, voters saw him as a representative for the change they wanted to see. He was elected with 55 per cent of the popular vote, and has drawn just as much praise as he has drawn criticism.

During one of his campaign rallies in September, he was stabbed in the abdomen by a former member of the Socialism and Liberty party who claimed to be on a “mission from God.” Later that month, protesters across Brazil took to the streets and chanted “Not him!” in response to Bolsonaro’s political campaign.

Bolsonaro portrays himself as a political outsider and an active support of family values. This has worked in his benefit, as he has distanced himself from the established political system that many voters are not in favour of.

He has relied on social media to get much of his message across, often promising to “rescue” Brazil, and to make Brazil “great,” which is reflective of Trump’s message about “making America great again.”

Many of these sentiments come from the fact that Brazil has become victim to many political corruption scandals, rising crime rates, and tax increases due to economic austerity.

Brazil’s citizens are done letting corruption slide, and the only way they felt they could unsure this was by voting extremely against the grain. But the benefits don’t outweigh the damage. In the cases of both America and Brazil, the countries are stuck with presidents who have made malicious comments towards their own citizens.

But Bolsonaro has a history of verbalizing his extremely offensive views, and has even faced charges for his discriminatory comments. He has defamed Indigenous Brazilian communities, has said that he’d rather his sons die than be gay, has made sexist and misogynistic comments to female journalists and has made racist comments towards the Afro-Brazilian population.

He has also shown support for Brazil’s former dictatorship, and has also stated that military-rule in Brazil could be justifiable.

Despite his campaign statement about making Brazil safer and “better for all its people,” his past comments openly resist this sentiment.

Brazil’s current president is Michel Temer who is extremely unpopular. The previous two presidents were left-affiliated, but both were connected to corruption scandals. Keeping all this in mind, it almost makes sense why Brazilian voters have swung so far to the other side of the political spectrum.

It’s almost the same thing that happened in America during the 2016 presidential elections, minus the corruption allegations. After a democratic presidency for eight years, Barack Obama had served his full term. Citizens who were extremely unhappy with Obama’s presidency turned to Trump to channel their fear and anger, which swung the voting results far to the other side.

Voters chose Trump because they had a deep desire for “change.” Voters also chose Bolsonaro for the same reason; he promised things that the previous presidents didn’t or couldn’t go through with. This occurs more from an act of desperation than from a positive political choice.

Brazil’s citizens are done letting corruption slide, and the only way they felt they could unsure this was by voting extremely against the grain. But the benefits don’t outweigh the damage. In the cases of both America and Brazil, the countries are stuck with presidents who have made malicious comments towards their own citizens.

Bolsonaro has been able to ride a wave of voter distrust in Brazil’s institutions. But now these same voters have to face a proposed erosion of democracy, further attacks on minorities and marginalized communities and hate crimes — which have reportedly been increasing since his election campaign.

If voters were against political corruption, they should’ve voted for a revolutionary leadership —not someone who is in favour of dictatorship. Progression does not happen by reverting back to the past, it happens through actual change in the system.

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