Opinion

Bolsonaro’s desperation presents a major risk for Brazilian democratic safeguards

Trailing in the polls, Jair Bolsonaro is sparing no expense — quite literally — in his re-election bid. His maneuvers are damaging to Brazilian representative institutions and democratic accountability

Bolsonaro desperation democratic safeguards
Jair Bolsonaro is polling 19 points behind Lula. Photo: Fátima Meira/Futura Press/Folhapress

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is desperate. 

No president has ever stood for re-election facing such unfavorable odds. Recent polls place him 19 points behind Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. If the elections were today, the center-left former president would win in a first-round landslide.

While the sample size is small (only three presidents have run for re-election since redemocratization), no one has ever failed in such an attempt since the right to contest a second consecutive term was introduced in 1998. Losing in the first round would be an even more historic defeat.

The despair around the Bolsonaro campaign...

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