Opinion

The (lack of) institutionalization of Brazil’s political party system

Before 2018, researchers believed Brazil's democracy was becoming progressively more predictable, with candidates from two parties winning the last six presidential elections. Then Jair Bolsonaro came along

Supporters of Jair Bolsonaro. Photo: Nancy Ayumi Kunihiro/Shutterstock
Supporters of Jair Bolsonaro. Photo: Nancy Ayumi Kunihiro/Shutterstock

The latest episode of our Explaining Brazil podcast discussed an unprecedented phenomenon in recent Brazilian history: President Jair Bolsonaro has governed the country for almost two years without being affiliated to a political party. Now, as he looks toward the 2022 presidential election, Mr. Bolsonaro is forced to look for somewhere to hang his hat — as Brazil does not allow independent candidacies. The president’s odd situation forces us to take a closer look at Brazil’s party system to find out exactly how the head of state can operate outside party politics for such a long space of time.

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