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What next for Brazil with triumph of far-right leader?

Massey University international relations expert Dr Marc Lanteigne, from the Centre for Defence and Security Studies

“The political earthquake which was expected, and feared in some quarters, in Brazil has taken place in the wake of the runoff elections today which resulted in extremist far-right candidate and former military officer Jair Bolsonaro of the Social Liberal Party sounding defeating Fernando Haddad of the Workers’ Party. Mr Bolsonaro has been accused of making misogynistic, racist and homophobic statements in the past, as well as expressing positive views of the era of military dictatorship in the 1960s-80s.

“His platform has echoed that of populist campaigns in Europe as well as Donald Trump and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, and he has borrowed a great deal of Trumpist rhetoric, including promising to restore Brazil’s previous ‘greatness’. His harsh comments have produced a massive backlash in the country, including protests in several Brazilian cities, under the banner of ‘Not him’ (Ele não). Despite Mr Bolsonaro’s call for anti-corruption laws, greater policing and massive political reform, there are concerns that his election will further polarise the country.

“Brazil has been struggling with recession as well as a loss of faith in mainstream politics, especially due to two recent previous presidents, Dilma Rousseff and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, being indicted for corruption. The outgoing president, Michel Temer, is also unpopular and has been accused of being ineffective in dealing with the country's economic slowdown and rising crime rates. The concern now is that Mr Bolsonaro’s win will represent a massive political lurch to the right and greatly harm Brazilian relations with neighbours and trading partners, including in South America but also with Australia and New Zealand. Mr Bolsonaro has also been critical of the 2015 Paris climate accord and has threatened to follow the lead of the US and withdraw from it. “


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