Emergency salary is giving Jair Bolsonaro extended life

. May 20, 2020
Emergency salary is giving Jair Bolsonaro extended life Photo: Elviira/Shutterstock

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Today we’re covering the latest opinion polls on the Bolsonaro government, showing an interesting shift in support thanks to the Covid-19 emergency salary. The pandemic curve continues to rise in Brazil. Sweeping data protection law could be enforced within two months.

The key finding from Jair Bolsonaro’s approval ratings

The Jair Bolsonaro administration has been a continuous flow of controversy.

Amid the worst pandemic of the past century, the president has pushed out two Health Ministers, as well as his most-popular ally, ex-Justice Minister Sergio Moro. Now, he sees his eldest son, Senator Flávio Bolsonaro, buried up to the neck in money-laundering accusations. Yet, his approval ratings have remained steady, hovering around one-third of the electorate.</p> <p><strong>Yes, but … </strong>A recent poll shows a shift in the president&#8217;s base of supporters. He is losing high-income classes and aggregating supporters among the poorest Brazilians — a movement linked to the government-issued BRL 600 emergency salary during the pandemic.</p> <ul><li>Disgruntlement with the president is rising among people who had their aid applications refused or who are not eligible for the program — that is, the middle-class and above.&nbsp;</li></ul> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/2481719" data-url="https://flo.uri.sh/visualisation/2481719/embed"><script src="https://public.flourish.studio/resources/embed.js"></script></div> <p><strong>Why this is happening.</strong> Despite all the glitches with the program — the second installment was delayed for 7 million people, and many are still without their first payment — the monthly benefit is more money than millions of people have ever had in their hands. Around 14 million Brazilians live in extreme poverty.</p> <ul><li>On the other end of the social pyramid, the picture is different. Firings, wage reductions, and bankruptcies have skyrocketed —&nbsp;and the lack of perspective for recovery damages the government&#8217;s image.</li></ul> <p><strong>Why it matters.</strong> Keeping his support base at around 30 percent is key to Mr. Bolsonaro&#8217;s survival in the presidency. Impeachment proceedings against Fernando Collor (1992) and Dilma Rousseff (2016) only began once their approval ratings were close to single digits.</p> <p><strong>Pitfalls.</strong> The emergency aid program is temporary, lasting only three months. The crisis will certainly outlast the benefit, so this new-found support could vanish if the government doesn&#8217;t extend the aid payments. This is a double-edged sword, however, as it risks breaking the president&#8217;s relationship with key members of his economic team — notably Economy Minister Paulo Guedes and Treasury Secretary Mansueto Almeida. The latter said on Tuesday that keeping the aid program is &#8220;fiscally impossible&#8221; without a &#8220;brutal increase in taxes,&#8221; as it would cost up to 8 percent of the GDP.</p> <p><strong>Remember Lula.</strong> It is interesting to note that the change in Jair Bolsonaro&#8217;s support base we are witnessing was something that former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva — his political nemesis — had pulled off in the past. Thanks to <a href="https://brazilian.report/power/2018/10/26/bolsa-familia-brazilian-elections/">cash-transfer policies such as Bolsa Família</a>, he managed to shift his party&#8217;s support base from intellectuals and the middle class to poorer populations, albeit on a much larger scale. </p> <ul><li>Furthermore, the conditions are quite different: Lula&#8217;s administration coincided with the commodities boom, which sprouted business in Brazil and drove unemployment rates to record lows — increasing revenue in all social strata. Mr. Bolsonaro, on the other hand, is about to face a job apocalypse and a <a href="https://brazilian.report/business/2019/10/03/evolution-brazil-purchasing-power/">generational economic depression</a>.</li></ul> <div id="buzzsprout-player-3644899"></div> <script src="https://www.buzzsprout.com/299876/3644899-107-why-is-support-for-bolsonaro-so-resilient.js?container_id=buzzsprout-player-3644899&amp;player=small" type="text/javascript" charset="utf-8"></script> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>One Covid-19 death every 73 seconds</h2> <p>For the first time since the coronavirus reached Brazil, the number of new deaths in a day reached four digits — with 1,179 casualties being accounted for by the Health Ministry on Tuesday, bringing the total tally up to nearly 18,000.&nbsp; Three months after the first confirmed case in the country, Brazil now accounts for 1 in 7 new Covid-19 infections in the world.</p> <p><strong>Why it matters.</strong> Covid-19 numbers in Brazil continue going up, but the country still has no unified, coherent plan to fight the disease. Among the top 8 countries with most infections, only Brazil has a rising curve at the present time.</p> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/2481049" data-url="https://flo.uri.sh/visualisation/2481049/embed"><script src="https://public.flourish.studio/resources/embed.js"></script></div> <p><strong>Who&#8217;s the boss?</strong> Brazil doesn&#8217;t even have a definitive Health Minister, after two of them were pushed out of the cabinet by President Jair Bolsonaro. Army General Eduardo Pazuello is currently occupying the chair on an interim base. On Tuesday evening, Mr. Bolsonaro said he is in &#8220;no rush&#8221; to name a full-time minister.</p> <p><strong>Chloroquine.</strong> The president once again defended the use of antimalarial drug chloroquine to fight the coronavirus. Several studies in Brazil and <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/04/21/anti-malarial-drug-trump-touted-is-linked-higher-rates-death-va-coronavirus-patients-study-says/">abroad</a> link the medicine to higher death rates. Renowned Brazilian medical associations and institutions have <a href="https://brazilian.report/coronavirus-brazil-live-blog/2020/05/19/medical-associations-advise-against-chloroquine-to-treat-covid-19/">advised against</a> its use.</p> <p><strong>Life Score.</strong> Yet again, the government was bashed for not properly dealing with a record-setting number of deaths. Late in April, Mr. Bolsonaro replied &#8220;so what?&#8221; to a question about the rising Covid-19 death toll. This time, the government&#8217;s official Twitter account decided to focus on its so-called &#8220;Life Score,&#8221; focusing only on recovered cases.</p> <ul><li>We at <strong>The Brazilian Report</strong> have <a href="https://brazilian.report/coronavirus-brazil-live-blog/2020/04/23/why-reporting-recovered-covid-19-cases-tricky-brazil/">not used this indicator</a> in our monitoring, as the data is not standardized.</li></ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Senate scraps postponement of data protection law</h2> <p>In April, Congress moved the deadline for companies and organizations to comply with the Brazilian General Data Protection Law (LGPD) from August 2020 to January 2021. A provisional decree by President Jair Bolsonaro pushed the date back further, to May 2021. This week, however, senators have passed a bill upholding the original deadline — which gives companies just over two months to be compliant.</p> <p><strong>It&#8217;s complicated. </strong>Some uncertainty remains — because presidential provisional decrees impose themselves over any other piece of legislation. If the decree signed by Mr. Bolsonaro expires or is rejected by Congress, then what the Senate decided on Tuesday becomes the new norm.</p> <p><strong>Why it matters.</strong> The pandemic has led authorities to use monitoring technologies to curb public gatherings in cities such as Recife and São Paulo. While companies guarantee privacy will be respected, history shows that no company is 100-percent safe from a data breach. Having a <a href="https://brazilian.report/tech/2020/04/04/impact-postponing-brazil-data-protection-law/">data protection law is key in such an environment</a>.</p> <p><strong>Impactful. </strong>Anyone who’s ever bought anything in Brazil has already been asked if they would like to attach their taxpayer ID (CPF) to the bill. This is a way governments found to push consumers into forcing stores and restaurants to register sales. You make merchants register the transactions, and you get a small tax kickback at the end of the year.</p> <ul><li>In reality, however, this means that almost any business in Brazil —&nbsp;from Facebook and Google to simple corner stores — deals with sensitive consumer data.&nbsp;</li></ul> <div id="buzzsprout-player-1452826"></div> <script src="https://www.buzzsprout.com/299876/1452826-70-in-brazil-new-terms-and-conditions-will-apply.js?container_id=buzzsprout-player-1452826&amp;player=small" type="text/javascript" charset="utf-8"></script> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>What else you need to know today</h2> <ul><li><strong>2020 election.</strong> Senate President Davi Alcolumbre is set to create a parliamentary committee to think up the best way to <a href="https://brazilian.report/newsletters/brazil-weekly/2020/03/30/coronavirus-brazil-municipal-election-2020-bolsonaro/">postpone Brazil&#8217;s 2020 municipal elections</a>, scheduled for October. By design, Brazil&#8217;s electoral system creates agglomerations and would expose millions of people to Covid-19, as voting is mandatory in the country. House Speaker Rodrigo Maia, however, says the election must happen this year to avoid a prorogation of incumbents&#8217; terms.</li><li><strong>Trump.</strong> As Brazil reached a new record for daily coronavirus cases and deaths, U.S. President Donald Trump said he is mulling over imposing a travel ban on Brazilians entering U.S. soil. “I don’t want people coming over here and infecting our people. I don’t want people over there sick either,” said Mr. Trump. Interestingly, the Brazilian government&#8217;s Covid-19 response has emulated Mr. Trump&#8217;s — from calls to reopen the economy as soon as possible, to endorsing the use of unproven drug chloroquine.</li><li><strong>Probe 1.</strong> President Jair Bolsonaro will exercise his prerogative as head of state to testify in writing in the investigation on whether he <a href="https://brazilian.report/newsletters/brazil-daily/2020/05/15/bolsonaro-i-wont-wait-for-the-feds-to-f-over-my-family/">illegally tried to meddle with the Federal Police</a>. He was accused by former Justice Minister Sergio Moro of moving pieces within the corporation in order to get <a href="https://brazilian.report/power/2020/04/24/sergio-moro-resigns-justice-minister-and-goes-out-swinging/">access to classified police reports</a> that could hurt his family and friends. </li><li><strong>Probe 2.</strong> A key piece of evidence in the investigation is a video recording of an April 22 cabinet meeting, during which Mr. Bolsonaro discussed interfering with the Federal Police. Supreme Court Justice Celso de Mello, the case&#8217;s rapporteur, watched the entire footage on Monday, and was reportedly &#8220;incredulous&#8221; with its content. The government is trying to avoid the video from being made public, claiming that &#8220;national security issues&#8221; were discussed. But Justice Mello is traditionally in favor of unsealing documents of this nature.</li><li><strong>Universities.</strong> Due to the inactivity of the Education Ministry, the Senate went ahead and passed a bill postponing all college entrance exams — including <a href="https://brazilian.report/society/2018/11/05/2018-enem-exam/">nationwide standardized test Enem</a> which is used by most public universities. In 2020, over 3.5 million students enrolled for the exam, which would require a massive (and costly) structure to be carried out respecting social distancing rules.

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