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Jair Bolsonaro may become Brazil’s version of Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte

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In a first round of an election that will shape the future of South America, Brazil voted in favor of far-right Jair Bolsonaro, nearly giving him an outright majority in the first round. Unless something crazy happens in the next three weeks, he should be the next Brazilian President.

WSJ tackles the background for the candidate in this video. News editor Anne Pallivathuckal starts the video off by laying out the situation:

He has faced street protests, got stabbed at a rally, and has spurred controversy with provocative statements. Yet Jair Bolsonaro took the lead in the first round of Brazil’s presidential election securing nearly half of the total votes, far ahead of his rivals but just shy of the majority he needed to win outright.

So who is Brazil’s leading presidential candidate?

Bolsonaro comes from South Paulo, one of Brazil’s richest state. He was a paratrooper and captain in the army. Even though he presents himself as an outsider, the father of five has been a congressman for 27 years. Although he has proudly stated that he knows nothing about economics, he is promising with his team to fix a country that’s in deep crisis both politically and economically.

His answer to Brazil’s woes: establishing order by cracking down on criminals inside congress and on the streets. He has promoted himself as a clean alternative to the Leftist Workers’ Party.

In many ways, Bolsonaro is very much like Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte. Both enrage their critics and excite their supporters with harsh words and promises to get very tough with criminals. Both have called for police to kill criminals directly. Both have expressed views many would see as discriminatory.

My Take

The wave of far-right politicians taking office around the world continues. Despite his bigoted views, Bolsonaro may be the bold choice Brazilians need to make in order to fix a nation that faces financial ruin. Run for years by demonstrably corrupt leftists, it is on the brink of fiscal failure.

I disagree with how Bolsonaro speaks of various groups in his country, including gays and women, but the alternative is a continuation of the failed policies that have brought the nation as near to collapse as it’s been since the military dictatorship called the shots in the early 80s. It’s like choosing to face the fire or drown in the water. With no good choices, you go with the one that at least gives you a chance of survival.


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