2018 Brazilian Elections

By Cecilia Godoy

In October of this year, Brazilians will once again head to the election booths to choose their next President. Currently Brazil’s political atmosphere suggests there is no shoe-in candidate, and the volatility of public opinion could swing in favor of either a far-leftist or an extreme rightist. The past couple of months have been filled with inquiry and exploration of who the candidates will be, come the deadline of late March. The election is being called one of the most consequential since Lula da Silva’s election in 2002, primarily because it could potentially mark a turning point in the country’s long term economic outlook. In his last few months as president, Temer has initiated an ambitious effort to invest and strengthen neo-liberalist policies that would pull back the state’s role in the economy. The election of a pro-reform candidate would support the new policies that have been aiding an economic recovery from a three-year recession by incentivizing private investment. In contrast, the election of an anti-reform candidate could scare off investors and revert the progress underway. Additionally, “the election of an anti-reform candidate could undermine Brazilian demand for goods for its regional trading partners.”

            Socially, the election is likely to demonstrate the country’s broad disillusionment with the political establishment. Brazil has been shaken by an unprecedented series of corruption investigations that began in early 2014. “Over 100 powerful businessmen and politicians have been convicted" and many other congressmen and political figures are still being investigated. Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, one of Brazil’s past presidents, had announced his interest to run in the new election campaign and has one of the “lowest rejection rates among likely contenders in the survey conducted by a pollster MDA.” However, the former president is currently under investigation for corruption scandals and is very likely to be constitutionally barred from running in this election cycle. Centrists have struggled for months to prop up a viable moderate candidate, with several establishment figures having been tarnished by corruption scandals. If Lula is barred, “the poll found that Bolsonaro would face environmentalist and former senator Marina Silva in a second-round runoff” which takes place in Brazil if no single candidate wins the majority of votes. None of the candidates have yet to offer detailed solutions for the most vexing

This election is not only important for the future economic policies that the new administration will support, but also to serve as a barometer for public opinion and attitude towards the political establishment and democratic institutions. This election’s importance can be compared to the high stakes of the 1989 election: Brazil’s first direct vote for president after more than two decades of military dictatorship. The key difference between the elections is that in 1989, people felt a sense of renewal and newfound certainty in a political system that would be held accountable by public demand and stipulation. 13 percent of Brazilians were satisfied with democracy, and 97 percent felt their government catered to a small, powerful elite. This once very promising political enterprise is now in crisis, and the public desire is to restructure the institutions they feel have abandoned them. The political whiplash of the past few years has made Brazilians more discontented with democracy than any other Latin American population, according to a poll conducted by Latinobarómetro. This survey found that only.