Bolsonaro’s new party is a monument to Brazil’s political limitations

The Liberal Party is perhaps an odd choice for Jair Bolsonaro, given the party's reputation of corruption and political cronyism

liberal party valdemar costa neto
Valdemar Costa Neto, chairman of the Liberal Party, during an event at the presidential palace: from convicted felon to éminence grise. Photo: Pedro Ladeira/Folhapress

After spending more than two years of his presidential term unaffiliated to any political party, Jair Bolsonaro has finally picked a new home. The incumbent head of state’s hand was forced by the upcoming 2022 elections, as Brazilian legislation does not permit independent candidacies. But who did he join? The center-right Liberal Party (PL), an ironic choice for a man who has consistently campaigned against mainstream politics and corruption.

The PL is a key part of the so-called “Big Center,” an amalgam of conservative rentier parties that holds a majority in Brazil’s lower house. While ostensibly falling...

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