Bolsonaro’s Approval Rating is Worse Than Any Past Brazilian President at the 100-Day Mark

Jair Bolsonaro

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was elected last year on a wave of popular anger at the country’s stagnant economy and political chaos, promising voters a “better future.”

After just over 100 days in office, many Brazilians feel this right-wing former congressman has not delivered on that promise.

Bolsonaro’s approval rating, which began dropping immediately after he took office on Jan. 1, has declined from 49% in January to 34% in late March, according to the Brazilian Institute of Public Opinion and Statistics. That’s the lowest ever recorded for a Brazilian president at the 100-day mark.

Nepotism, hate speech and mismanagement

Bolsonaro’s rise to lead Latin America’s biggest country after 13 years of leftist leadership was made possible by years of overlapping political, economic and crime crises that created widespread disillusionment across Brazil.

Capitalizing on voter frustrations, Bolsonaro, a longtime lower house representative, ran a polarizing outsider campaign not unlike the 2016 presidential campaign of Donald Trump, now a close ally. He demonized women and minorities, attacked democratic institutions and, according to a Brazilian court, incited hate and violence.

Still, he won the presidency last October with 55% of the vote, an average share of votes which does not compare to the more than 60% share of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s consecutive landslide victories in the 2002 and 2006 elections. In Brazil, voting is compulsory.

Many Brazilians expressed hope that, once in office, Bolsonaro would set the demagogy and bigotry aside to focus on addressing the huge challenges facing Brazil. These include a long-stagnant economy, rampant government corruption and record-setting urban violence.

That hasn’t happened.

Hours after taking office, Bolsonaro issued an executive order that decreased environmental protections of the Amazon, outraging environmentalists worldwide and endangering the indigenous Brazilians who live in the world’s biggest rainforest.

On a recent visit to the Holocaust Museum in Israel, Bolsonaro made headlines for claiming that Germany’s Nazi Party was a leftist regime. His foreign affairs minister only made things worse when he defended his boss’s comments by explaining that both Nazis and socialists are “anti-capitalist, anti-religion, collectivist [and] against individual freedom.”

Picking unnecessary fights

Bolsonaro has demonstrated a lack of mastery of the legislative process, despite having been a lawmaker for nearly three decades.

Reforming Brazil’s expensive, ailing pension system was one of Bolsonaro’s main electoral promises to boost the economy. But his mismanagement of negotiations around a bill to save Brazil $US270 billion over the next 10 years by raising the retirement age and increasing individual contributions has frustrated the fragile, cross-party coalition of lawmakers working to pass his plan.

Bolsonaro has picked fights with supporters of the bill, including the speaker of the lower house. And he has failed to explain critical aspects of the proposed reform.

Pension reform, which requires three-fifths congressional support to pass, now seems unlikely to happen before the June deadline Bolsonaro set – if it happens at all.

Pension reform also eluded Bolsonaro’s predecessor, former President Michel Temer, who was indicted on charges of money laundering in March.
AP Photo/Leo Correa

Bolsonaro’s controversial cabinet

Concerns over corruption have likewise clouded Bolsonaro’s first 100 days.

Bolsonaro has failed to take seriously repeated corruption allegations against numerous aides. That’s risky in Brazil, where a multi-year judicial investigation still underway has sent two presidents, several lawmakers and dozens of corporate executives to jail for bribery.

And Bolsonaro recently raised eyebrows by suggesting that he’d like to appoint his son Carlos, a far-right Rio de Janiero city councilman who manages the president’s Twitter feed, to join his cabinet. All three of the president’s sons play an unusually active role in their father’s government.

Bolsonaro’s frequent positive references to military dictatorship as a form of governance also has critics worried.

Protests erupted in early April after Bolsonaro called on Brazilians to honor the anniversary of the 1964 coup that ushered in military rule in Brazil. Brazil’s 24-year military dictatorship claimed 191 lives, “disappeared” 210 dissidents and tortured several thousand people, according to a 2014 government report.

“Liberty and democracy only exist when the armed forces want them to,” Bolsonaro has since commented.

Bolsonaro served in Brazil’s armed forces. His vice president, Hamilton Mourão, is a retired general. And eight out of the 22 ministers in Bolsonaro’s cabinet are military officers.

That’s a higher proportion of military men in government than any prior democratic administration in Brazil – higher even than some of its authoritarian regimes.

Some of Bolsonaro’s civilian cabinet ministers are equally controversial.

Damares Alves, the evangelical pastor picked to lead Brazil’s Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights, has made it her mission to promote “family values,” which entails promoting traditional values and combating abortion as well as gender equality.

“It’s a new era in Brazil: Boys wear blue and girls wear pink!” she announced on her first day in office.

Historically, the human rights ministry has worked to improve the lives of minorities in Brazil and ensure their legal protection.

And Bolsonaro’s first minister of education, Ricardo Vélez Rodríguez – who has since been fired for mismanagement – outraged teachers when he ordered all public schools to submit to the ministry a video of schoolchildren singing the national anthem on the first day of the new school year.

Brazil’s literacy rate is among the lowest in Latin America, at 92%. And its school dropout rate is among the region’s highest: 28% of students never graduate.

His demand may also have been illegal, since Brazilian law prohibits the recording of minors without parental consent.

Bolsonaro was elected to snap Brazil out of a deep slump. After three months in office, the “better future” he promised looks a lot like the crisis that came before.

Helder Ferreira do Vale, Associate Professor, Graduate School of International and Area Studies, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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US museum drops event honoring Brazil’s homophobic president


The American Museum of Natural History on Monday (15 April) announced it would no longer host a private event honoring Brazil’s notoriously homophobic far-right president.

Rights groups, political leaders, museum employees, and celebrities had slammed The New York City museum.

The Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce was due to honor at Jair Bolsonaro as the chamber’s ‘Person of the Year’ at the museum.

Far-right Bolsonaro, who took office in January, has described himself as a ‘proud homophobe’.

He also said he’d prefer to have a dead son than a gay son.

On Monday, the museum said organizers agreed it was ‘not the optimal location’.

‘This traditional event will go forward at another location on the original date & time,’ the museum added in a tweet.

GLAAD led calls for the museum to cancel the event.

‘It’s dangerous for a respected attraction … to provide a national platform for a foreign leader who is known for targeting and attacking marginalized communities, especially LGBTQ people’ president Sarah Kate Ellis said.

The science community also slammed the Museum. Bolsonaro’s denies of human-caused climate change, wants to remove protections on the Amazon rainforest, and has attacked indigenous communities.

Trump of the Tropics

Known for his far-right policies and anti-LGBTI, misogynistic, and racist comments, some people call Bolsonaro ‘the Trump of the Tropics’.

LGBTI activists have warned Bolsonaro will usher in a new wave of terror for Brazil’s LGBTI community.

In January, Brazil’s only openly-gay lawmaker fled the country.

‘For the future of this cause,’ Jean Wyllys told Folha de S. Paulo, ‘I have to stay alive. ‘I don’t want to be a martyr’, he also said.

He said he did not plan to return to Brazil.

Many LGBTI Brazilians who said they were fearful for their rights and safety under the rule of the openly homophobic Bolsonaro.

Prior to the presidency, Brazil saw a spate of same-sex weddings, as same-sex couples rushed to marry before Bolsonaro took office.

Though same-sex marriage has been legal in Brazil since 2013, many LGBTI people worry that Bolsonaro might begin rescinding LGBTI rights during his presidency.

2018 was one of the deadliest years for Brazil’s LGBTI community.

In September, Brazilian LGBTI rights group reported more than 300 LGBTI people have been murdered in Brazil in 2018. Importantly, that’s from 220 by the same time the previous year.

‘I would be incapable of loving a homosexual child’ Bolsonaro once said.

‘If your son starts acting a little gay, hit him with some leather, and he’ll change his behavior’ he also said.

Author: Rik Glauert

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Bolsonaro and Trump Stand ‘Side by Side’ to Promote Heterosexual Relationships and Reject Gender Ideology, Says Brazilian President

Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro held a joint press conference in the Rose Garden on Tuesday, where Bolsonaro said the two countries stood “side by side” to reject LGBTQ rights.

Said Bolsonaro (via translator): “In conclusion, may I say that Brazil and the United States stand side-by-side in their efforts to ensure liberties and respect the traditional family lifestyles and respect to God, our creator, against the gender ideology and the politically correct attitudes and against fake news.”

He went on: “Drawing inspiration from Ronald Reagan, I wish to bring to Brazil his administration style, as summarized in the following citation, “People should say what the government can do and not the other way around.” The United States changed in 2017, and Brazil has started to change now. We stand against it to the ultimate benefit of the two nations. We want to have a great America, yes, and a great Brazil. May I voice my admiration and recognition to president Donald Trump on this beautiful day where we seal the promising alliance between the two most promising and largest democracies in the Western hemisphere, may God bless Brazil and the United States of America.”

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