Latam Review

Brazil Election: What now?

Thatiane Moreira[1]

A former paratrooper, Jair Bolsonaro, won the Brazilian’s election in 2018. He built his campaign around pledges to crush corruption, crime and a supposed communist threat. A far-right / pro-gun / pro-torture / sexist / racist politic was elected as president of Brazil. How did this happen? The Bolsonaro was elected due to several reasons, as: corruption scandals, the disbelief in the traditional parties, the vision against PT (Worker´s Party), the Lula´s arrest, the economics issues, to mention a few examples.

Several points of the Bolsonaro´s government program are open to criticism. In the education field, the current president of Brazil follows the position of Olavo de Carvalho (writer that wants to destroy the allege “cultural Marxism”, ideology that he considers harmful to the culture and traditions occidental society),  and he proposes end up with the Marxists theories and gender education in the curriculum. They defend the project “Escola sem Partido”, which aims at a school free of the communist treat (it is important explain that Bolsonaro has an own definition of communism, he considers as communist threat all the positions contrary his own opinion).

By restricting what the schools are ably to teaching and removing the dissent points of views, Bolsonaro menaces on of the democracy´s basis: the debate and the development of ideas. Moreover, by withdrawing gender education, Bolsonaro strengthens homophobic actions and he damages the futures generations.

In the security field, Bolsonaro intends to reduce the constraints to keep and bear arms, because he believes that the solution to the Brazilian security issues is to increase the amount of weapon in the street and the numbers of death criminals, therefor, according to the Brazilian president “a good outlaw is a death outlaw”[2]. This statement shows that Bolsonaro does not understand (or does not want to understand) that the mainly cause of the violence is not the bandits, but the inequality and the lack of public policies.  To blame the bandits as cause of the violence, Bolsonaro skips of his own responsibilities.

Even with this government project, Bolsonaro received about 55 % of valid votes. What was his campaign strategy? The digital media have played an important role in this context. Using the social media, Bolsonaro has built his self-image; he portrayed himself as an ordinary person that speaks directly to the population, who is capable to contest the tradition powerful people. In 2018, Bolsonaro was the candidate who best used the power of the digital media, as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp. Thus they constructed a strong support network, often based in fake news.

Furthermore, the electoral campaign of Bolsonaro was accused of receiving illegal funding of about tens of millions of reais to a digital marketing strategy, in which  youtubers produce questionable content (as videos against PT), while Twitter and Facebook were important tools for rebuilding narratives and the WhatsApp was used as the main means of the communication and as an important tool to organize the supports chain (to spread the fake news and to increase the numbers of supporters).

The Bolsonaro´s election highlights the powerful of the digital medias and how the professional marketing of politics strategies in digital medias can interfere in the electoral process, and thus in the democracy. Meanwhile, long before the digital media, the tradition media vehicles, as the journals, have been capable to interfere in the political position of the citizen, then: What is the innovation of the digital media? The amount of data available, what enabling the microtargeting´s strategies, and it is important to mention that the media platforms most commonly used, and which produce a huge number of data, are controlled by a few private actors.

This is a new way of governing, oriented towards anticipating, formatting and selecting the future chances and actions of individuals, through the monitoring of data and metadata from their infra-personal “profiles” and more generally through computerized digital devices[3].

Beyond the digital media, Bolsonaro was supported by four large groups: liberal economists, military, “olavistas” (Olavo de Carvalho´s supporters) and evangelicals, each with his own political interests. The question is how long Bolsonaro will be able to maintain this support base, as well as the population´s approval, and how high will be the political cost.

[1] Thatiane Moreira is Brazilian, she completed a bachelor’s degree in philosophy at University of Campinas and now she studies Political Science in the same university.  During the first semester of 2019, she is an exchange student at Université Libre de Bruxelles.


[3] Antoinette Rouvroy uses the concept of algorithmic go­vern­men­ta­li­ty. She explores the po­li­tical, le­gal and phi­lo­so­phi­cal im­pli­ca­ti­ons of the com­pu­ta­tio­nal turn (Big Data, algorithmic profiling, in­dus­tri­al per­so­na­liza­t­i­on).


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