Power

Bolsonaro failed to plant his flag in Brazil’s poorest region

Last year, Jair Bolsonaro wanted to take Brazil's poor Northeast from the left. He failed — and has all but ignored the region ever since

northeast Jair Bolsonaro visits Feira de Santana, Bahia, in April. Photo: Alan Santos/PR
Jair Bolsonaro visits Feira de Santana, Bahia, in April. Photo: Alan Santos/PR

About a year ago, Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro had bold plans to conquer the Northeast. The country’s poorest region had proved immune to the president’s charms, being the only part of the country where Mr. Bolsonaro did not win a majority of votes in the 2018 election. It is also where his rejection rates are the highest, by some distance. Even so, at one point it seemed possible that the government could muster the momentum to take over what has traditionally been an electoral stronghold for the center-left Workers’ Party.

Mr. Bolsonaro was empowered by rising approval...

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