As largely expected – and likely priced in – ‘far-right’ congressman Jair Bolsonaro, aka ‘Tropical Trump’, has won the Brazilian Presidential election in a run-off vote against the socialist “Workers Party” candidate, Fernando Haddad.
The latest tally with over 96% of the vote in is 55.54% Bolsonaro, 44.46% Haddad.
It took just 15 minutes between first exit poll/first official result and knowing the name of the winner.
Jair Bolsonaro’s party, PSL, celebrates his victory and thanks all voters:
“Thanks, Brazil! To you, voters, we thank you very much for all the support, dedication and, mainly, for the confidence! A new Brazil is now born, without divisions, much more fair, without corruption. A happier Brazil! The change is only beginning and you are part of it!”
As Bloomberg notes, despite his sometimes harsh rhetoric, to many Bolsonaro inspires hope: that he can revive a sickly economy – setting up a potential fire sale of natural resources – and break decisively with decades of crime and corruption.
Sounding very Trumpian, Bolsonaro says during a live TV address:
The people saw the truth, despite the media. A big part of the media put me on a shaming position,
Thank you all for your pray, confidence. Lets together change Brazil’s destiny. We knew to where Brazil was headed and now we know where we want to go.
We couldn’t continue to flirt with communism and socialism, now we will lead with God.
We have everything to be a big nation.
We have governability.
My government will be committed to its people, Truth will free this country.
I am a defender of freedom and will run a government that is democratic and respects the constitution.
All pledges will be fulfilled, the mission of rescuing Brazil will be accomplished.
This was a polarized election but what we are hearing from our reporters on the ground is that the mood right now is celebratory — fireworks in Sao Paulo, Brasilia and Rio, lots of cheering for Bolsonaro (with his ‘mito’ — myth — nickname) and against the Workers’ Party.
In Brasilia, people are screaming “Lula na cadeia” (Lula in jail) from their windows to celebrate Bolsonaro’s win (or PT’s defeat).
Not only did Bolsonaro win the election, but a strong showing from candidates that supported him was seen in the state governor races: in Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Sul, candidates that strongly vowed for Bolsonaro won the elections.
GloboNews TV reporting that police is trying to prevent clashes between pro- and anti-Bolsonaro supporters in Sao Paulo. The broadcaster said there were some rocks and bottles thrown after the official results were announced but things seem to have calmed down.
Riot police already firing off tear gas and rubber bullets as groups pro- and contra-Brazil's new far-right president clash in Sao Paulo…. pic.twitter.com/k4MtZqTVwz
— Andrew Downie (@adowniebrazil) October 28, 2018
Bernd Berg, strategist at Woodman Asset Management, is bullish:
“Bolsonaro landed a landslide victory promising Brazil a better future after years of economic downturn and corruption scandals that stroke the country. I am confident Bolsonaro is going to deliver much needed reforms (to bring the fiscal deficit down) and the Bolsonaro-rally will lift the Ibovespa to 130,000 while the BRL will fall below 3.00 per dollar by the middle of next year.”
Eleven Financial Research’s Raphael Figueredo:
“Good part of Bolsonaro’s win was priced in, but market’s open could be euphoric tomorrow. Now, investors should focus on Bolsonaro’s speech and, specially, on his choices for the economic team and the plan for reforms”
With up to five former generals on Bolsonaro’s list of potential cabinet picks, his government would give the security forces their biggest public role in decades. In Congress, he’d rely on the support of the so-called “BBB caucus” – the “Beef, Bullets and Bible” bloc of farmers, cops and evangelicals that saw a boost in their numbers earlier this month. With security one of voters main concerns, a major part of Bolsonaro’s success so far has come from his hard-line stance on law and order.
Bloomberg’s Brazil & Argentina economist Adriana Dupita notes that, for markets, “the first important sign from President-elect Bolsonaro will come from the decision on his economic team. University of Chicago-trained Paulo Guedes is seen as a sure choice as a “super-minister” for finance and planning, to control not only economic policies but also spending decisions.”
We also note that Bolsonaro, baptized in the River Jordan by a Brazilian Assembly of God pastor in 2016, has passionate support from evangelicals – who make up 22 percent of the electorate – and many others who herald him as the country’s savior. His unusual middle name – Messias, or Messiah in Portuguese – was chosen by his mother after a difficult pregnancy, and the candidate often jokes about the awesome responsibility of such a name.
“My name is Messiah, but I can’t perform miracles,” he once said.
And, as Lance Welton writes (via VDare.com), Bolsonaro may well move the country in a strongly conservative direction. But amid all the MSM panic about Brazil’s impending return to the “dictatorship” it emerged from 33 years ago [Brazil elections: prospect of Bolsonaro victory stokes fears of return to dictatorship, by Tom Philipps, Guardian, October 5, 2018], few seem to be asking a key question: How in Heaven (so to speak) have Pentecostals managed to take over a country which, less than 50 years ago, was 95% Catholic? [Brazil’s Changing Religious Landscape, Pew Research Center, July 18, 2013]
And let’s be clear that born-again Bolsonaro’s election (a cradle Catholic,he was rebaptized in the River Jordan by evangelicals in 2016 ) will be a Pentecostal victory. [The Rise of the Brazilian Evangelicals, by Chayenne Polimédio, The Atlantic, January 24, 2018]Thus Bolsonaro didn’t even bother turning up to a TV presidential election debate last month, instead being interviewed on the rival channel owned by Edir Macedo, head of Brazil’s largest evangelical church (in Brazil “Pentecostal” and “evangelical” are essentially interchangeable). Bolsonaro blamed this on his having been stabbed during the turbulent election campaign. But many see it as a way of distancing himself from the “secular” and “decadent” rival candidates.
Some sixty-one per cent of Brazilian evangelicals were set to vote for Bolsonaro, as against 26% for his socialist “Workers Party” opponent in today’s second round – Bolsonaro came very close to victory in the first round. Bolsonaro, known as “The Captain,” has the ardent support of parliament’s “Evangelical Front”—a group of almost 100 Pentecostal MPs [Jair Bolsonaro courts Brazil’s evangelical Christians, by Andres Schipani and Joe Leahy, Financial Times, October 19, 2018] who meet before the daily agenda begins to be filled with the Holy Spirit together. Bolsonaro, like his evangelical base, is against legalizing abortion, against homosexuality, favors traditional sex roles, wants to brutally crack down Favela crime, wants to allow people to carry weapons, and wants to stop the country’s various social engineering programs.
As with Trump, Bolsonaro’s “gaffes” – telling a Leftist MP she was “too ugly to rape”, that women’s proneness to pregnancy justifies their having lower salaries [Presidential candidate said some women are “too ugly to rape”, by Kate Buck, Metro, October 1, 2018], that he’d rather his son was dead than gay, that Brazil’s blacks shouldn’t breed, that democracy wasn’t working, [Jair Bolsonaro; A Soldier Turned Politician Wants To Give Brazil Back to Army Rule, By James Brooke, NYT, July 25, 1993] and that criminals should be, en masse, tortured then killed—don’t lose him support; they gain him support. [How a homophobic, misogynist, racist “thing” could be Brazil’s next president, By Elaine Brum, Guardian, October 6, 2018] Like Trump, he says what ordinary Brazilians really think, especially the 48% who are white—though he has surprisingly strong support among women [Women for Bolsonaro, By Chayenne Polimédio, Foreign Affairs, October 26, 2018] and minority populations. [How Bolsonaro Entranced Brazil’s Minorities—While Also Insulting Them, By Anthony Faiola and Marina Lopes,Washington Post, October 24, 2018 and Why Many of Brazil’s Gay Voters Will Overlook Bolsonaro’s Homophobic Rants, By Walter Brandimarte, Bloomberg, October 27, 2018]
And, as with Trump, trust in the political Establishment – who originally dismissed Bolsonaro’s candidacy as a joke—has collapsed, due to revelations of fraud by the majority of legislators (though not Bolsonaro), with Brazilians turning to Bolsonaro’s two major backers: Protestants and the army. [Showdown in Brazil, Deutsche Welle, October 10, 2018]
According to the Pew study cited above, Brazil is roughly 30% Protestant and these Protestants are overwhelmingly—roughly 75%—Pentecostal. This means they are fundamentalists who believe that the Holy Spirit guides their lives, that material success is a blessing from God, and that Brazil is the field of combat upon which a war between God and Satan is playing out before their eyes.
The conversion of Brazil has been a startlingly short process. Originally overwhelmingly Catholic, the country has swung from crisis to crisis throughout the twentieth century due to quite amazing economic mismanagement and corruption. This has meant that between 1889 and 1985, there have effectively been three revolutions—Brazil is now on its “Third Republic”—leading to massive upheaval each time, something that was particularly acute when it returned to democracy in 1985. With the election of the leftist Workers’ Party’s hardliner Lula da Silva as president, in 2003, the government began obsessing about “equality”, losing control of the economy and crime in the process.
Brazil is a world of instability, embezzlement, and danger. Former President Lula de Silva currently languishes in jail for corruption, his misdemeanors having come to light in 2011 during his attempt to put an end to high-level Brazilian corruption, though he remains extremely popular. His successor His successor, Dilma Rousseff, herself tortured under the military dictatorship , was impeached in 2014 for breaking budgetary laws. Brazil’s murder rate is 25 per 100,000, compared to about 5 in the USA and, for that matter, many parts of South America. [Intentional Homicide Victims, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2016]It is against this background that the evangelicals have made such massive inroads.
People become more religiously devout when they are stressed. Uncertainty leads to stress and religiousness makes people feel less stressed, because the world makes sense and God is watching over them. Pentecostalism is a particularly potent panacea because it gives a very clear—fundamentalist—worldview. The second half of the twentieth century in Brazil saw a huge rural exodus to the cities, rural people being horrified by what they found, and evangelical churches offering the “community” and “moral certainty” they’d left behind. Religiousness is also caused by feelings of exclusion and failure. [The Origin And Evolution Of Religious Prosociality,by. A. Norenzayan, & A. Sharif, Science, 2008]. Pentecostalism deals with this by telling you that you are uniquely moral and Godly and, not only that, but that God will financially socially bless you, thus filling you with self-confidence.
If you’re poor, as so many are in Brazil, Pentecostalism allows you to present yourself as highly moral, in a context in which issues such as immigration are too insignificant to allow you to do that. There is, in fact, empirical evidence that men who are of relatively low socioeconomic status tend to earn more money the more Protestant a Brazilian region is and that when race is controlled for the effect is stronger in Brazilian regions with large non-white populations. In other words, Protestantism reduces prejudice against people (such as the mixed population), likely because it’s an insurance policy of moral behavior [The Growth of Protestantism in Brazil and Its Impact on Male Earnings, 1970–2000, Joseph Potter et al., Social Forces, 2014] and, fascinatingly, these “mixed regions” in the north (apart from the regions with many slave descendant blacks) have tended towards Bolsonaro.
Pentecostalism’s Prosperity Gospel likely also gives people an incentive to work hard in order to prove to themselves that God is blessing them and they are not damned to Hell, the so called “Protestant Ethic”.
And then there’s the clear evidence that evangelicalism works. It is evangelical churches that organize things. It is an evangelical mayor who has been tackling crime in Sao Paulo.[Brazil’s growing evangelical movement to shape election, Deutsche Welle, September 30, 2018] Pentecostals take over prisons, improve the lot of the inmates and send converts back into the outside world to convert their friends and family. Pentecostals set up help centers, provide meals for the needy so they can “witness to them” [From Jails to Congress, Brazil’s Evangelicals Could Swing Election, by R.T. Watson et al., Bloomberg, October 4, 2018] and provide medical care and “faith healing” [Born Again in Brazil, R. Andrew Chestnut, 1997] . . . they “get things done.”
This combination of certainty, moral status provision, love bombing, and financial success, seems to have rapidly converted more and more Brazilians, just as a very similar process converted the English to evangelicalism and Methodism during the chaos of the Industrial Revolution. [God is Dead, By Steve Bruce, 2002]
Why Brazil has reacted in this religious way and not Mexico? We can only speculate. Brazil has long been multiracial and multi-ethnic—the impeached former president had Bulgarian parents, Bolsonaro is German and Italian—something which results in distrust even among coethnics, conflict, instability [E Pluribus Unum, by Robert Putnam, Scandinavian Political Studies, 2007] and thus religious fervor. And Brazil, unlike Mexico, happened to import lots of Protestant immigrants, especially from Germany, setting themselves up to be evangelized.
Brazil was long (21 years) under a conservative military dictatorship. its successors swung very strongly against—resulting in the Brazil of carnivals, bikini waxes and socialism. The newly-triumphant Leftist ruling class used the memory of the dictatorship essentially to shame open conservatism out of the public arena, placing the new ruling class and its policies firmly at odds with a conservative population that was too scared to question them. In other words, the Left was setting themselves up for a forceful counter-revolution—and, as with Trump, access to alternative perspectives via the internet is allowing the right to grow and bypass the Leftist Main Stream Media.
The likely moral for people in the West and especially in “secular” Western Europe: fundamentalist religiosity seems to be pretty important in defeating the forces of SJW chaos. It “gets things done”.