Explaining Brazil #172: A president’s worst enemy

Inflation is set to hit the 10-percent mark this week. And historical data shows that high inflation and a poor economic outlook are bad omens for incumbent presidents

After the end of this month, roughly 25 million Brazilians will be left in limbo: they will stop receiving the government’s coronavirus emergency salary, which expires in October, but they are also not considered to be poor enough to receive benefits from the Bolsa Família program. Exactly what to do with these people is a massive question mark within the Jair Bolsonaro administration. 

  • Leaving them without any government help could further escalate the rise of poverty in Brazil and turn them against the president: Bolsonaro’s re-election chances are already slim, and he can’t afford to lose more support. 
  • But doing something about it in the form of more government handouts could cause the budget to spiral out of control, pushing up against the federal spending cap. Also, breaching that cap is an impeachable offense, meaning it could leave the president in a precarious position.

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  • Euan Marshall is an editor at The Brazilian Report and also hosts the Explaining Brazil podcast in the absence of Gustavo Ribeiro.

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