THE BOLSONARO ERA BEGINS

THE BOLSONARO ERA BEGINS

Barring a shocking turn of events, voters in Brazil will elect Jair Bolsonaro president on Sunday. Press attention will focus on his charisma, provocative style, and an apparent ideological affinity with, if not imitation of, Donald Trump.


Bolsonaro has said many provocative things—about the military, crime-fighting, the left, women, and various minority groups. Like Trump, he’s made for the media, knows his crowd, and has attracted both intensely loyal supporters and loud critics.

But whatever the scale of his victory on Sunday, Bolsonaro will face a bewildering array of checks and balances on his plans for Brazil. Voters have made clear they want change, but a fiscal crisis and tight federal budget will leave Bolsonaro with little to spend on projects that might extend his presidential honeymoon.

He’ll also struggle to forge the alliances needed to pass legislation. 106 of 308 members of Brazil’s lower house of congress and eight of 54 senators are reliably aligned with the new president. He can cut deals with pragmatic members of both houses, but that won’t help his reputation as a political maverick. Brazil’s strong court system, which has brought down multiple former presidents and hundreds of other politicians and business leaders, will push back on any attempt Bolsonaro might make to move Brazil toward a more authoritarian political system.

Finally, Brazil, like many other countries in today’s world, is deeply polarized, and there are troubling stories from recent weeks that encourage Bolsonaro critics to claim the election wasn’t fair.

A tidal wave of disinformation has spread across social media channels, in particular via the encrypted messaging service WhatsApp, which counts 120 million users in Brazil. Fact-checkers have uncovered tens of thousands of widely circulated images that contained false or misleading information about the leading candidates, including Bolsonaro. In response, WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, has shut down hundreds of thousands of accounts.

What’s more, a week before the presidential election first round on October 7, the daily Folha de Sao Paulo uncovered a conspiracy by pro-Bolsonaro businesses to spend millions of dollars on text message blasts supporting him. That’s a violation of Brazil’s strict campaign finance laws. Investigators are looking into whether Bolsonaro was directly involved.

In recent years, Brazil’s people have endured the worst economic and political crises of the country’s modern history. Violence has surged. Polarization is extreme. Just 18 percent of Brazilians trust their government.

After Sunday, Bolsonaro will face the monumental task of trying to restore faith in government. The task will be even tougher if millions of Brazilians doubt the legitimacy of his victory.

An abstract image of a brain with high tech neural connections. Get the latest from Microsoft on the most pressing policy issues.

Visit Microsoft on The Issues for a front-row seat to see how Microsoft is thinking about the future of sustainability, accessibility, cybersecurity and more. Check back regularly to watch videos, and read blogs and feature stories to see how Microsoft is approaching the issues that matter most. For the latest, visit Microsoft on the Issues.

A man eats by a newspaper stand that displays a cover story on the preliminary results of the general election in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, November 29, 2021

The small Central American nation of Honduras is in many ways a full blown narco-state. President Juan Orlando Hernandez – who’s governed the country for close to a decade – has been linked to the country’s booming drug trafficking trade. His brother Tony, a former congressman who is buds with Mexican drug lord El-Chapo, was sentenced to life-in prison this year for smuggling cocaine into the US. Narco-trafficking gangs run riot in the country, fueling one of the world’s highest murder rates, while corruption and poverty abound.

More Show less
Who's arriving at the US-Mex border

Despite a recent dip, migrant arrivals at the US-Mexico border have surged over the past 10 months, driven by economic hardship, violence, and the perception that President Biden would be more welcoming to migrants than his predecessor. Most of those coming to the US from the South hail from Mexico, but a large number have also fled violence and poverty in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. We take a look at migration patterns from Central America in 2021 compared to 2020.

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at the omicron variant, the Honduras presidential election, and the pros and cons of getting stuck in a UK pub for three days in a snowstorm.

As the omicron variant emerges, is a return to lockdown next?

The answer is, only in a few play places, because people are exhausted from lockdowns. They're angry with their governments from doing it. Governments are going to be very reluctant to have the economic hit as a consequence, especially when they know they can't pay out the relief money that they've been paying over the last couple of years, and they're not yet sure about just how much of a danger omicron is. I think all sorts of travel restrictions, but unless and until you see that the spread starts leading to significant lethality, hospitalizations, and once again, the potential for ICUs to be overwhelmed, I do not expect many significant lockdowns that are countrywide at this point. Not least in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the populations are very young and as a consequence, you can have a lot of spread and they're not paying attention to it, frankly.

More Show less
Eric Zemmour, presidential candidate for the 2022 election, speaks on French TV channel TF1.

Zemmour for president. After months of rising in opinion polls, far-right French polemicist Erich Zemmour has made it official: he’s running in next year’s French presidential election. Zemmour, who blames Muslims, liberals, elites, and the EU for what he sees as the decline and emasculation of France, says he is running in order to “prevent our children and our grandchildren from experiencing barbarity.” Could he win? Never say jamais these days, particularly as Zemmour has something of Donald Trump’s provocative star power and media savvy. Still, most polls show that while he could reach a second-round runoff against current President Emmanuel Macron, he would then lose decisively as moderates from across the political spectrum unite behind the incumbent. The more immediate political problem is for far-right stalwart Marine Le Pen who, in trying to broaden her appeal beyond the far right, now finds herself outflanked by the more unapologetically extreme Zemmour.

More Show less
Hard Numbers: China pledges jabs for Africa, Brazil burns boats, pub-bound Brits, billions without internet

1 billion: With the emergence of the (potentially dangerous) omicron variant in Southern Africa stoking fresh debate over vaccine hoarding in wealthy countries, China has announced it will deliver an additional 1 billion vaccine doses to the continent over the next three years.

More Show less

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Good morning everybody and I hope everyone is okay this Monday. I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving, those of you that celebrate. Of course, pretty difficult news over the weekend, and even this morning, the World Health Organization, referring to the new variant omicron of COVID as a very high global risk. And when I hear those words, obviously we get moving at Eurasia Group, a firm very much concerned about that. And indeed, this is in terms of new news about this pandemic that we've all been living with now for almost two years, this is some of the most concerning new headlines that we've seen thus far.

There are some things we know and some things we don't know, there are three things we need to know, if you want to really assess what the omicron risk represents for us and for the world: rates of infection, sickness and mortality and vaccine effectiveness. We only have strong answers about the first, which is we know that this is a lot more infectious as a variant than Delta has been, which itself was much more infectious than the original virus. And that is a very serious problem. I've spoken with a lot of the epidemiologists we know about this over the weekend, they're all extremely concerned about that.

More Show less
Don’t jump out the omicron window

With cases, and fears, of the new omicron variant spreading rapidly around the world, we sat down with Eurasia Group’s top public health expert, Scott Rosenstein, for a little perspective on what to worry about, what not to, and whether the pandemic will ever actually end.

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

Don’t jump out the omicron window

Viewpoint

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal