On January 1, Jair Bolsonaro was inaugurated as Brazil’s 38th president. The task ahead of him was a veritable Rubik’s cube—a polarized and deeply unequal country, with a sluggish economy, infrastructure deficiencies, low education performance, and falling investments.
Mr. Bolsonaro rose from being a longtime backbencher to taking the highest office in the land by capitalizing on Brazilians’ frustrations, and gambling on an anti-establishment platform. Much like Donald Trump in the U.S., Mr. Bolsonaro gained popularity by promising to “drain the swamp,” and to lead an administration that would be “more Brazil, less Brasília.”
Now, one-quarter of his term is in the books. How did he fare?
As expected, Mr. Bolsonaro’s tenure has been highly controversial and delivered mixed results. But it is true that very few presidents—if any—would have a stellar body of work to show for themselves after only one year in office. At the beginning of his term, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva battled two years of weak economic results, protests, and corruption scandals. Eventually, he would benefit from a commodities boom that allowed his administration to give scale to cash transfer programs—making him the most popular politician in Brazilian history.
We’re not suggesting Mr. Bolsonaro is on the path to become a political phenomenon in the same way Lula did, but it is worth pointing out that, for better or worse, the president’s legacy is still in the making. It remains too soon to determine how good (or bad, depending on one’s perspective) he will be.
In this eBook, we assess Mr. Bolsonaro’s first year in office by using charts and analysis based on four axes: politics, economics, environmental issues, and foreign affairs. The texts will give you an overview of what the past year has been like in Brazil—and what to look out for in 2020. For a deeper dive into Brazil, make sure you subscribe to The Brazilian Report.
We hope you enjoy your read.