Wednesday, September 26, 2018

If Bolsonaro is elected, God help Brazil

If you think that Donald Trump is offensive and insensitive - and Rodrigo Duterte, and Matteo Salvini, and Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and Doug Ford, and any number of other populists currently taking advantage of the Zeitgeist - you ain't seen nothing yet. Brazil holds a general election next month and, because the country is going through a particularly rough patch, economically, politically and in pretty much every other way, there is a distinct possibility that uber-populist Jair Bolsonaro could be elected there.
Make no mistake, Bolsonaro is a nasty piece of work. He has said that he would not rape a Brazilian congresswoman, but only because she is very ugly. He has said that he would prefer a dead son to a gay one. He has said that people who live in settlements founded by escaped slaves are fat and lazy. He does not do politically correct.
And if you thought that the long parade of flawed Brazilian politicians in recent years - from Luis Inácio Lula da Silva to Dilma Rousseff to Michel Temer - were a bad lot, imagine the country under a divisive right-wing populist and evangelical Christian like Bolsonaro. He has promised to slash the number of government ministries from 29 to 15 and to put army generals in charge of some of them, to privatize all of Brazil's state-owned
companies, and to "simplify" the country's taxation system to an unprecedented degree. And these are just some of the policies he is talking about publicly. He has already been stabbed at a political rally earlier month, and this has only served to increase his popularity.
Like it or not, populism is having its day and, however much more thoughtful people may warn against the risks of knee-jerk reactions in favour of fire-and-brimstone populists, they keep getting elected. If Bolsanaro joins their ranks, then God help Brazil. Soccer, salsa and any number of beautiful beaches won't help them then.

Well, Bolsonaro won. Populism 1, Brazil 0.

No comments: