Yet, force oblige, the political scenario is too gloomy to refrain from a few comments. By reading international media reports, and talking to people in Macau who only know Brazil from afar, the perception is that of bewilderment in the face of events which confirmed that a far-right candidate, Jair Bolsonaro, was the choice of the majority of Brazilian voters, in the first round of the presidential election. The front-runner has now a real chance of becoming Brazil’s next president.
Considering that nearly all Brazilians at voting age have casted their ballots on October 7 – voting is compulsory in Brazil, a remnant of authoritarian and oligarchic designs – and that the recent results contradict the past three elections in which the left-wing Workers’ Party (PT) won, the math is clear: many people who usually, or traditionally, vote left have chosen to vote right this time. This is to say, many constituents are not voting Bolsonaro because they believe he is capable of solving the country’s many problems, but because they want to make a statement against the left political elite.
Another reason Bolsonaro, a open supporter of Brazil’s previous military regime, is thriving, is his promise to attack the country’s rampant levels of violence with institutionalized violence – he is harnessing fear in order to pool many of his followers. In all logical reasoning, a good presidential choice would mean a candidate with an elaborate economic plan, proposing solid structural reforms, and dignifying social policies. But Brazil is not reasonable. Candidates there are often elected based on the immediacy of their proposals, no matter how dangerous or impractical they are.
Truth be said, the far-right candidate is incapable of articulating anything worth labeling a government platform. His repertory ranges from a series of fascist promises and easy slogans that speak to Brazilians’ desperate need to grab a fixer for all troubles affecting society as a whole. People believe in a man like him, because rage, frustration and disillusion are ubiquitous. Competence to govern is not part of the equation. Magic is what people are expecting. Bolsonaro is plausible, because Brazil is not plausible.
I don’t believe fighting violence with violence is worthwhile. Putting such a man in power would be a big mistake, arguably a tragedy. But tragedy is the tone of daily life for many Brazilians, so they might as well go with that.