Elected president thanks to an anti-politics wave, Jair Bolsonaro promised to end one of the most vilified forms of coalition-making in Brazil: horse-trading politics. In an immensely fragmented parliament (30 parties are currently represented in Congress), governments simply cannot govern without forming broad, oft-heterogeneous coalitions. And the currency used in these negotiations is traditionally cabinet positions and other government offices. Parties would lend their support in Congress in exchange for the opportunity to oversee massive budgets which could enhance their electoral capital. The problem with that arrangement is that, often, parties would siphon public funds to finance their campaigns and their leaders’ lavish lifestyle — as anti-corruption probe Operation Car Wash revealed in recent years.
Less than halfway into his term, however, Mr. Bolsonaro tossed his campaign promises aside and is embracing these same practices — which he used to disparagingly call “old politics.”