By Luis Fonseca, MBA/MPP Class of 2021
This was supposed to be an article blindly supporting Haddad (PT) for the second-round election. But I won’t insult your intelligence: there were better options in the first-round, such as Marina, Ciro, and even Amoedo.
PT has accumulated errors and failed to recognize and correct them: corruption, economic crisis, rise of violence, etc. I won’t touch these only because my counterpart, Artur, will certainly cover them. Trust the facts he brings, but know also that the party the most involved in Car Wash corruption scandal was PP, Bolsonaro’s party then. Briefly, in another scenario, PT should be punished by the population in the polls.
You may be wondering: “how can Bolsonaro be worse than PT?” As House of Card’s twitter had it: it is difficult to compete with Brazilian politics.
Bolsonaro is sexist, racist, homophobic, and anti-minorities. But don’t take my word, judge it yourself on The Economist’s cover page article or John Oliver’s show. Although I know most of his voters are not like him, prejudice is cruel in Brazil: people of color earn 57% of whites’ income, women represent only 10% of Congress, and we kill the most LGBTQ people in the world. Having Bolsonaro as president would only validate and reinforce this discrimination, certainly leading to a rise in hate crimes, as has been the case in the US with Trump.
Most Bolsonaro’s voters despise his hate speech, but still consider him the best option, particularly because Bolsonaro symbolizes the anti-PT alternative. To some, he represents the ‘commander’ who will curb corruption and crime. Paradoxically, Bolsonaro has been implicated in corruption – he admitted that his former party received bribes – and wants to rage a barbaric war on crime – disregarding human rights for ‘criminals’ and arresting many more in a country with the world’s third largest incarcerated population.
To other voters, Bolsonaro’s economic advisor, University of Chicago PhD Paulo Guedes, would conduct the economy appropriately (although some reforms would hurt the poorest, e.g. a flat rate for income tax). It remains uncertain, however, whether Guedes would be able to control his populist leader, who previously had radically different economic beliefs. Furthermore, decisions under consideration for other ministries have disastrous potential, such as merging the agricultural and environmental protection ministries – leaving the fox watching the hen house – and appointing Bolsonaro’s personal lawyer as Justice Minister.
And that’s the upside case. Bolsonaro is an authoritarian populist: he has openly defended Brazil’s military dictatorship; has proposed packing the Supreme Court, so he could appoint 12 of 21 judges – hinting at his Chavismo; and has said he won’t accept the election results unless he wins. And while I hope that doesn’t happen, political scientists studying populism such as Levitsky and Mounk of Harvard believe that Bolsonaro can corrode public trust in institutions and take political control. None of which attributable to PT.
PT is not a good option, even though Haddad is a good public manager who has designated capable professionals in key positions and has the capacity to manage the economy responsibly, proven by his ability to reduce Sao Paulo’s debt during the economic crisis. Yet, Bolsonaro, in the best-case scenario, is inhuman, and, in the worst, risks leading Brazil to much worse.