Brazilian Politics: Surprisingly Stable

Brazilian Politics: Surprisingly Stable

Quick take from Ian Bremmer: Hello everyone. Ian Bremmer here. A quick take to start your week. There’s so much we could talk about, but we just had an election in Brazil, and as expected, Lula will be the next president of South America’s biggest economy. We haven’t heard anything from Jair Bolsonaro yet. That, of course, is an open question, how badly he wants to be an election denier, how badly he wants to cause disruption. But there is no doubt that we will see this transition.

Now, no big surprise here. Lula has been consistently in the lead over the past few months, although the race has been tighter, ultimately with just a 1.9% split between the two candidates, or a few million votes, which had narrowed in recent years. weeks. That’s partly because Bolsonaro did a better job towards the end of the election campaign. In part, the economy was improving a bit in Brazil. But also, keep in mind that polls generally underestimate how much support you’ll get for the anti-establishment population. And one of the main reasons for that is that if you really don’t believe in institutions, you probably won’t tell pollsters who you’re going to vote for. You know why? Because you don’t trust them. Now the good news is that many people who truly believe in conspiracy theories don’t even bother to vote. But still, if they vote, they probably won’t tell pollsters. So you get a bit of that half-hearted, sweeping turnout that happened this time around, but not enough to make a difference.

So first of all, what do we think Bolsonaro is going to do? I mean, it would be good for the country, it would be good for his legacy if he could just accept the fact that it was a free and fair election. Everyone in the world understands this. And therefore, concede gracefully. He may race again in the future. He can certainly set himself up as the leader of the Brazilian opposition. Many of his allies have done relatively well in the elections, both in the Brazilian Congress and in key governorates. He could be well prepared for this.

His personality doesn’t imply that’s what he’s going to do, much more about himself than about his party or the country. And as a result, and this may be a problem for a lot of people going to national elections in this environment, but it’s clear that Bolsonaro is likely to say this was fake news. It’s a big lie. That the election was really his and he wasn’t ready to accept the outcome. Of course, if he does that, there will be a lot of internal dissent in the country. We will certainly see large demonstrations, of truckers for example, of motorcyclists for example, which can cause economic damage and disruption, upheaval, which could cause violence in the capitals of Brazil. But that won’t change the outcome, and Bolsonaro has no ability to stop what will be a peaceful and one-time transition in the country. The army generally supports it but would not support a coup against democracy. The judiciary is not independent. He’s actually increasingly politicized, but he doesn’t support Bolsonaro. So that’s not going to help him. And many of his allies, including in Congress, have already made it clear that Bolsonaro did in fact lose what was a free and fair election.

So could there be a January 6-type moment in Brazil? I hope not. It’s possible. But ultimately, as in the United States, this does not change the trajectory of this election. What it does is continually undermine and erode institutional legitimacy itself. This, of course, is a longer-term danger, not just in Brazil and the United States, but in many democracies around the world.

Finally, what about Lula himself? Certainly, you are now going to have a country that is more geared towards an assertive response to climate change. He has already spoken of bringing deforestation to zero in Brazil, which is going to be difficult to do, but he will be better received on the international stage as a result. Economically, he will be a heavily left-wing president, although the fact that he has been talking a lot more about trying to veer to the center in recent months, in part, to position himself to win. But partly because he understands Congress is going to be much more divided with a lot of conservatives who won’t support a heavily populist economic stance. That he’s going to have a hard time drastically changing the country’s economic trajectory, or spending a lot of money fiscally without knowing how to pay for it.

So I suspect it’s… Even though the markets took a hit based on Lula’s win, ultimately there will be more stability in the transition than a lot of people think. So I was never super concerned about this election. I continue to not be super worried about it. There’s more stability in Brazil than a lot of people would like to believe, and we’ll see where that goes. That’s it for me, and I’ll talk to you all very soon.

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