Far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro wins Brazilian presidency by wide margin

By MEAGAN PEOPLES | November 1, 2018

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Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/ CC BY 2.0

Bolsonaro won 55 percent of the vote in Brazil’s presidential election.

Brazil elected its new president, Jair Bolsonaro, on Sunday. Bolsonaro has been widely criticized for statements that many consider to be homophobic, racist and misogynistic. He defeated the Workers’ Party candidate, Fernando Haddad, who was backed by Brazil’s former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. da Silva dropped out of the race following his 12-year sentence on corruption charges. 

Brazil held its general election at the beginning of October, where Bolsonaro won 46 percent of the votes. The second largest percent of the electorate voted for Haddad, who garnered 29 percent of the votes. As neither candidate won the minimum of 50 percent of the population’s votes, a run-off election was held between the two candidates who won the first and second highest number of votes: Bolsonaro and Haddad.

In this run-off election, Bolsonaro won 55 percent of the votes, beating Haddad by 10 percent and 10 million votes. 

Sophomore Lana Weidgenant, co-president of the Brazilian Students Association (BRASA), emphasized the parallels between the 2018 election in Brazil and the 2016 election of U.S. President Donald Trump. 

“There’s a worldwide tilt toward people feeling like it’s okay to rise up, that someone can get elected saying these things about minorities and women and LGBTQ groups,” Weidgenant said. “That’s just a pattern that we’ve seen over and over again.” 

According to Weidgenant, elections that take place in a country like the U.S. are particularly influential worldwide. 

“Trump’s election has an impact not just in the United States,” Weidgenant said. 

She believes that the 2016 presidential win for Trump has contributed to an increase in extremist groups worldwide.

“These far-right populist movements have started to rise up in other places,” she said. 

Sophomore Vinícius Lepca, co-president of BRASA, said that he was disappointed by the election results but not surprised. 

“Whenever I asked friends or acquaintances of mine if they would vote for Bolsonaro, they would say, ‘At least he’s not corrupt. I don’t care what he says, people say bad things, I don’t care about that, I want someone who’s not corrupt, and I want change,’” Lepca said.

Though he agreed with the sentiment in Brazil, Lepca did not believe that electing Bolsonaro was an effective solution.

“I agree, change is necessary, but that’s not the change we needed,” he said.

Lepca commented on how much attention the election got in Brazil, including from his friend group back home in Brazil.

“If there’s anything we can see that’s good about this all, at the very least people are more interested in politics now,” Lepca said. 

He noted that this mentality is prevalent in both American as well as Brazilian culture. 

“People were a lot more interested in politics and people were following [the election] more. So maybe for the next election we’ll have the same interest but better candidates,” he said. 

Weidgenant, reflecting on the Bolsonaro’s victory, urged students to vote in the upcoming U.S. midterms because of how much influence American elections have on the world.

“Our voting patterns and the change we influence in the United States really isn’t limited to the United States, so it’s that much more important to be active,” she said. “There’s just so much influence that the people we elect in power have across the world.”  

She further emphasized the importance of staying aware of political trends, not just in this, but across the world. 

“You can’t just say silent and not pay attention,” she said. “It’s not an option to just not be interested in politics anymore.”

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