Authoritarian Brazil Redux?

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 1681 ... October 6, 2018

Authoritarian Brazil Redux?

Massimiliano Mollona

On Sunday 7th of October, the Brazilian people will go to the polls to elect their next president. There has never been such a dramatic election since January 15th 1985 when Brazil returned, the vote to the polls after twenty years of dictatorship (1964-1985) -- although voting took place still within the electoral college system put in place during the dictatorship. Following the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff two years ago (which Saad-Filho described as a "coup") and a chaotic interregnum led by the corrupted Michel Temer (PMDB) -- who nonetheless was very effective in curbing workers’ rights by amending part of the famously pro-labour Labour Law (CLT), regularizing outsourcing and cutting workers’ pensions -- the future of Brazilian democracy... hangs in the balance. Much of it will be decided at the polls.

Leading with 32 per cent of vote intentions (Datafolha) is Jair Bolsonaro (PSL), a right-wing populist and evangelical Christian who is brilliantly taking advantage of the popular rage exploded against the political establishment after the Lava Jato (Car Wash) investigation which led to the imprisonment of the ex-leader of the PT Lula da Silva and the impeachment of Dilma, although on unrelated charges. Trailing behind him with 21% of is the candidate for the Workers’ Party (PT) Fernando Haddad.

The popularity of Bolsonaro is growing vertiginously despite or perhaps because, of his misogynist, homophobic and classist public outbursts -- he famously said to prefer a dead son to a gay one and that people living in ex-slave settlements (quilombos) are fat and lazy. Running in parallel to Bolsonaro’s outbursts are those of General Hamilton Mourão (PRTB) (his vice-president candidate) who recently declared his intention to abolish the 13th month salary and scrap the 1988 Constitution (incidentally Haddad agrees with him on this) and famously described families without strong father figures "factories of outcasts."

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