One of Jair Bolsonaro’s first actions into his sixth term as congressman, in March 2011, was to draft a motion to summon then-Minister of Education Fernando Haddad to a deposition in the lower house. He wanted Mr. Haddad to explain himself about the so-called “gay kit,” the name evangelical leaders gave to anti-homophobia material to be distributed in public schools. Two weeks later, Mr. Bolsonaro’s motion was crushed by the vast majority of his peers. “Is there a straight man around to back me up?” he asked the House floor, fuming.
One year later, Mr. Bolsonaro nailed a poster of Mr. Haddad – who was running for mayor of São Paulo – to the door of his office, with the phrase: “The candidate of the gay kit.” From the lower house tribune, he gave an inflammatory speech: “Wake up, people of São Paulo! Will Haddad, as mayor of São Paulo, implement homosexualism (sic) courses for children in elementary schools?” Mr. Haddad never acknowledged the congressman, giving an idea of how irrelevant Mr. Bolsonaro was at the time.
Times have changed – you can call Mr. Bolsonaro many things, but not irrelevant.
The former Army captain was once a fringe candidate, regarded as a radical who only pleased retired military men, nostalgic for the military dictatorship.