Brazil’s most popular presidential contender, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva — “Lula” — has been barred from the ballot while he serves a 12-year sentence for corruption. As a result, the country faces the possibility of a demagogue dictator taking the reins, according to an article in The Washington Post that was co-written by Mount Holyoke Associate Professor of Politics and International Relations Andrew G. Reiter.
According to the analysis, as Brazil is still recovering from its worst recession in history, many voters have turned away from major political parties and toward far-right candidates. This puts the country at risk for following a pattern similar to Venezuela and others, where dictators have been democratically elected following the collapse of national parties. After Lula, the most popular candidate is Jair Bolsonaro, a former army captain who has promised a return to military rule if elected.
“In head-to-head matchups with other candidates, for example, Bolsonaro outpolls each of his potential rivals,” stated the article. “With Lula off the ballot, expect more turmoil from Brazil’s already chaotic political environment.”
[Eds. note: In the wake of a nearly fatal stabbing at a rally in early September, Bolsonaro is expected to be confined to his home or a hospital in the final weeks of the campaign. Opinion polls show his support growing.]