Letter to the world: Presidential elections in Brazil

, by Giovana Faria, Translated by Will Crisp

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Letter to the world: Presidential elections in Brazil
São Paulo, Brazil. Photo: CC0

Brazil has elected a new president: Jair Bolsonaro emerges victorious from the election, but not without critical voices at home and from abroad. Giovana Faria from São Paulo writes this letter to the world about the political shifts in her home country.

Hello World,

In the last decade, Brazil has been faced with a range of political challenges that have shaken the hopes of many Brazilian citizens. In 2009 began a far-reaching corruption investigation, Operation Carwash, which led to more than a thousand police actions involving searches and confiscations of property, as well as the convictions of business leaders and politicians who had been involved in money-laundering, such as the former president, Luís Inácio Lula da Silva. Then, in 2016, the announcement of President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment owing to breaches of conduct in state finance was decisive for Brazilians in ushering in an era of widespread dissatisfaction with a government that had been headed by the PT (Labour Party) for over thirteen years.

That longing for a radical change is what, on October 28, made Jair Bolsonaro the President of Brazil. In his twenty-seven years as a Member of Parliament, Bolsonaro gained a salient position in the media through his many controversial statements. Previously, he has said that he would sooner ‘have a dead son than a gay son’ and that ‘the dictatorship should have killed around thirty-thousand people’. But even after comments of this sort, the anxious prospect of four more years under the Labour government was enough to see that the majority of Brazilians would choose Bolsonaro instead as the President of the Federative Republic of Brazil.

The above was, however, not the only factor that has contributed to the candidate’s popularity. The powerful backing of the agricultural sector managed to unite agriculturalists sympathetic behind the former military officer’s campaign. Plenty of Christians were brought to Bolsonaro’s side by his defence of conservative ideals and traditional family values. Many more voters joined the campaign out of fear. Furthermore, in light of the increasing violence, Bolsonaro suggested dropping the age of criminal responsibility to seventeen years old (at least, in the interim) and softening restrictions on the right to bear arms, so that “honest citizens” – as he calls them – are able to possess a right to self-defence.

After the announcement of the election results, Bolsonaro promised to “defend the constitutional and democratic order” of Brazil. Regarding foreign policy, Bolsonaro has suggested prioritising bilateral treaty relations, encouraging trade with countries offering high-tech economic opportunities for Brazil, deepening integration with all Latin American countries that are free of dictatorship, and not turning away from important democracies like the United States, Israel and Italy. This new president’s plan for government has lofty aims, but no actions to implement them. As a result, it is difficult to predict this election’s possible consequences for the world.

It is hard to say how his politics could change the current global political situation. Nevertheless, one thing is certain: common amongst Brazilians, whether they are Bolsonaro voters or not, is an expectation upon him to govern well and uphold his promise to defend democracy.

I hope the world will enjoy good relations with the new president of Brazil. That is the desire of many Brazilians – not only for you out there, but for ourselves and our country as well.

Yours in hope,

Giovana Faria

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