• Kara Evans

Presidential Incitement of Violence & Polarised Voters: The Brazil 2022 Election

By KARA EVANS

Worker's Party candidate Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro debate Oct 16 in Sao Paulo.


The incumbent, President Jair Bolsonaro has set the groundwork to reject ‘fraudulent’ election results on October 30th if he faces a loss. Brazil awaits an uproar of politically incited violence between polarised voters upon the ‘Trump of the Tropics’’ predicted cling to power. Bolsonaro, leader of the Liberal party and ‘For the Good of Brazil’ coalition faces to stand against Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, leader of the Worker’s Party and the ‘Brazil of Hope’ coalition, for a second time in the runoff vote following Lula’s failure to obtain a largely predicted majority. Bolsonaro outperformed the Datafolha poll, receiving eight percentage points higher than predicted; with an outcome of 43.2% of the vote whilst Lula shortly beat the incumbent with 48.4%. With such predominantly polarising votes, Brazil faces extreme uncertainty surrounding the country's political stability in the event that a populist incumbent remains or refuses to leave peacefully.


Inciting such politically motivated violence to an enthusiastic audience arguably reiterates fears that Bolsonaro may plan to be repetitive in his imitations of Trump and promote violence on the scale of the January 6th Capitol attacks if he faces such a loss on October 30th.

Politically induced violence throughout Brazil in the lead-up to such a tense electoral event has sparked noticeable similarities between the incumbent and former president, Donald J. Trump. In successfully securing the votes of those in Southeast states (the country's most populous areas), Bolsonaro began to mirror Trump’s right-wing populist approach to politics where he simultaneously attracted Southern states during his four-year tenure. Within this year alone, Brazil has faced 214 cases of politically motivated violence against candidates, officials, and government workers, with 45 of these categorised as alleged homicides. Increasing political violence in Brazil is evidently rooted in the fascist reign of President Bolsonaro, telling crowds of supporters ‘Let’s shoot the petralhada here,’ (a derogatory term for the Worker’s Party, led by Lula) whilst later denying any responsibility for violence which stems from his instructions, ‘Some guy with one of my shirts commits an excess…What do I have to do with it?’


Inciting such politically motivated violence to an enthusiastic audience arguably reiterates fears that Bolsonaro may plan to be repetitive in his imitations of Trump and promote violence on the scale of the January 6th Capitol attacks if he faces such a loss on October 30th. The ignorance of his denials raises the question of whether the incumbent should win the election or face removal.


The opposition of Luiz Lula da Silva has seen increasing tensions bubble over between the polarised electoral population within Brazil, with the former President providing policy overhauls in many struggling areas of legislative action. Climate policy partnered with economic and state impact has been key to Lula’s campaign, largely moving Brazil away from such a right-wing disregard for a green economy and climate change. However, if polls correctly predict the loss of Bolsonaro, congressional barriers for Lula may become a deterrent to pushing agenda and policy change in the political reformation of Brazil due to the nature of Bolsonaro’s congressional allies on the verge of an outright majority in both the Senate and the lower house of Congress. The overturned corruption charges of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in 2021 implicate the former President with potentially negative motivations to run for a third non-consecutive term, raising the question of whether he seeks to gain vengeance against his political enemies for the charges he faced in the past?


Bolsonaro’s populist policy history has rather exemplified the necessity for a more democratically inclined successor to bring Brazil back to cohesivity, with the discouragement of social distancing during a global pandemic which totalled 600,000 deaths in Brazil, Bolsonaro’s extremist reign is justifiably coming to a widely predicted end. From the beginning to the expected end of his premiership, the incumbent has made minority groups a key target of his campaigning and discriminatory legislation. The exposition of Bolsonaro’s tenure saw executive orders remove the rights of the LGBTQ+ community and indigenous residents from consideration by the new human rights ministry. Thus, in the eyes of a contemporary democratic society, the leadership of President Bolsonaro can not be deemed as anything less than an incitement of conflict trailed by populist extremism.


A fearfully unpredicted win for President Jair Bolsonaro on October 30th would see chaos within Brazil soar throughout political institutions tainted with right-wing populism whilst political violence would sweep the streets in supporters' celebrations. A succession of the current Brazilian government by ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is seemingly the only direction for Brazil to be returned to a non-extremist reign with the restoration of peace between exceedingly polarised voters throughout the country.


Image: Flickr/ Comunicação Band


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