Bolsonaro and his groupies in Brasília. Photo: Gustavo Ribeiro
extreme right brazil

Bolsonaro and his groupies in Brasília. Photo: Gustavo Ribeiro

Ibope, a polling institute that has become synonymous with public opinion in Brazil, has published its first survey on the 2018 presidential election. It confirms that former President Lula and Congressman Jair Bolsonaro, two of the country’s most divisive candidates, lead the polls in nearly every scenario.

Lula appeals to voters who associate his presidency (2003-2010) with an era of prosperity and economic success. Indeed, Lula was the head of state during the commodities boom, which propelled the Brazilian economy to new heights after years of stagnation. His cash-transfer programs also pushed millions of people out of poverty. But Lula’s presidency was also plagued by numerous corruption cases – which drove many of his supporters away.

The former president himself was convicted of corruption and money laundering in July. If the conviction is upheld by a court of appeals, Lula would be excluded from the race.

Bolsonaro is polarizing for different reasons.

For years, the extreme right politician was making headlines only for his outrageous remarks. You might remember him as the man who told a fellow congresswoman that she “wasn’t worth raping.” He’s also the one who said that beating teens would prevent them from “turning” into homosexuals. Now, Bolsonaro is emerging as an anti-Lula force – and has been drawing a lot of support.</p> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="947f3cfc-1bee-45b7-a7c5-ea56004f52c6" data-type="interactive"></div><script>!function(e,t,s,i){var n="InfogramEmbeds",o=e.getElementsByTagName("script"),d=o[0],r=/^http:/.test(e.location)?"http:":"https:";if(/^\/{2}/.test(i)&&(i=r+i),window[n]&&window[n].initialized)window[n].process&&window[n].process();else if(!e.getElementById(s)){var a=e.createElement("script");a.async=1,a.id=s,a.src=i,d.parentNode.insertBefore(a,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async","//e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js");</script> <p>Next year’s election will be Bolsonaro’s first national race. Thanks to a calculated social media strategy, the extreme right-wing candidate is polling at 9 percent on spontaneous surveys – and makes it to 18 percent when Lula is out of the picture.</p> <p>But who’s willing to vote for him?</p> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="8296b425-4ec6-464b-95b1-0622da836c98" data-type="interactive"></div><script>!function(e,t,s,i){var n="InfogramEmbeds",o=e.getElementsByTagName("script"),d=o[0],r=/^http:/.test(e.location)?"http:":"https:";if(/^\/{2}/.test(i)&&(i=r+i),window[n]&&window[n].initialized)window[n].process&&window[n].process();else if(!e.getElementById(s)){var a=e.createElement("script");a.async=1,a.id=s,a.src=i,d.parentNode.insertBefore(a,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async","//e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js");</script> <h3>What to make of the numbers</h3> <p>While Bolsonaro’s reactionary agenda may be associated with older voters, he polls better among young white men. “The youth grew up decades after the democratization of the country. That fear of authoritarianism common among older voters is less present among the youth,” explains Melo.</p> <p>“In a normal election,” he continues, “someone like Bolsonaro would be what we refer to as a niche candidate. This kind of candidate can qualify to the runoff stage in a fragmented scenario.”</p> <p>Brazil already experienced such a scenario in 1989, the first election since the military coup of 1964. The runoff stage back then was decided between two extreme opposites: Lula, on the left, and Fernando Collor, on the right. Collor ended up taking the race, but was impeached just two years into his term.</p> <p>It is easy to dismiss Bolsonaro’s supporters as uneducated bigots. But, as the world learned in the wake of Trump’s election to the American presidency, there is more to the picture than meets the eye.</p> <p>Bolsonaro is the only presidential hopeful who has placed public security as a primary focal point of his agenda. In a country that saw <a href="https://brazilian.report/2017/10/31/brazil-abandoned-public-safety/">61,619 murders in just 2016</a>, it’s a topic that strikes a chord. Violence has become one of our number one concerns. One-third of the adult population knows someone who was murdered; in Rio de Janeiro, 7 out of every 10 residents want to leave the city because of its rampant violence.</p> <p>Of course, Bolsonaro offers all the wrong solutions. The extreme right candidate wants to arm more people and do away with gun control legislation. He also believes that “violence must be fought with more violence, not human rights”. Notwithstanding these outrageous statements, Bolsonaro is tackling an issue that is significantly personal for many Brazilians.</p> <p>Dismissed by the press and pundits for months, Bolsonaro can no longer be ignored. But how far he goes will depend on many factors, including who will run against him.

Read the full story NOW!

BY The Brazilian Report

We are an in-depth content platform about Brazil, made by Brazilians and destined to foreign audiences.