Brazilians will return to polls later this month to vote in a presidential run-off election between former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, known popularly as Lula, and firebrand current president Jair Messias Bolsonaro. Run-offs aren’t usually this closely watched in Brazil, except for the fact that there has already been political violence and Bolsonaro has been campaigning on a steady message of anti-media, anti-institutional trust, and claims that any election he does not win is one that has been stolen from him. That he did significantly better in the first round than many polls had predicted has given him and his supporters a shot in the arm.
Brazil is the second largest economy in the Americas, after the United States. It is a significant exporter of industrial materials and agricultural commodities. Brazil’s constitution dates back to 1988, and the first elections it held after the 1964 military coup were in 1989, meaning Brazilian electoral traditions are only as old as Taylor Swift. We are seeing the greatest challenge to Brazil’s democratic norms and traditions since their implementation, and that is a sobering thought. It’s not so much what Bolsonaro might do, as much as what he has promised.
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