When Jair Bolsonaro won the presidency, back in October 2018, everything was in his favor. The Workers’ Party—his ideological nemesis—was in shatters, as were most political groups, giving space for a conservative rise in Congress. Public opinion was shifting to favor a reform of the pension system and austerity measures that would help put the country’s finances back on track. It seemed that he would kick off his four-year term with the conditions to become a consequential president, with the opportunity few others had in the past.
Two days after the election, I spoke with several political scientists to predict the level of support the administration would have. They were all unanimous in saying that, given the conservative outlook of the new Congress, Mr. Bolsonaro could have up to 363 seats on his side of the aisle. That is, of course, if he abandoned his anti-system rhetoric and engaged in politics, negotiating with parties, not around them.