When President Jair Bolsonaro took office in 2018, Brazil was experiencing an existential crisis. Everything — or everyone — linked to so-called traditional Brazilian politics (especially from the center-left Workers’ Party, which had been the ruling party for two decades) was somehow held accountable for the corruption, economic troubles,
and any other problems Brazil had at the time.
Perhaps these broad brush stroke judgements were because the average citizen tends to want a boogeyman to blame. Mr. Bolsonaro saw their dissatisfaction as an opportunity; from his first steps on the campaign trail — with lots of fake news and Trump-like social media posts along the way — the far-right captain has claimed that he would (though never saying how) attack privileges, end corruption, and last but not least, be a political outsider.
People believed, hook, line and sinker. Regardless of Bolsonaro’s stance on the Brazilian dictatorship, and his misogynistic tendencies, more than 55 million Brazilians voted for him. And some of them really expected him to “change the system,” whatever that means. But nearly four years on, some people are feeling that they have been duped.
There is a laundry list of corruption scandals linked to Bolsonaro, his inner circle and his family too. The president has been seen happily eating prime cuts of steak and jet-skiing while Brazilians starve. He doesn’t have the packed agenda one might expect of a head of state. Now that the majority of Brazilians seem to have understood who he really is — polls suggest his re-election is unlikely — Bolsonaro, in keeping with his traditional political spirit, is using money to try to convince people that he deserves another chance.
To be fair, Bolsonaro didn’t create the crisis Brazilians are facing. He is just a symptom of those problems. And for him, no one is really a priority.