Soren Miles Fesel
The Brazilian General Election: An Analysis
Recently, a very important election took place in South America. Brazil, a large country of 212 million people, has elected a new president. Winning by 0.9 percent of the vote, leftist candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, or Lula, has beaten the current, far-right president Jair Bolsanaro. This election (and the events that will likely occur as a result), will have a profound impact on not just Brazil, but the entire world.
The current president is Jair Bolsanaro, a military officer who turned to politics post-retirement. He was elected as president of Brazil in 2018, and officially inaugurated on January 1st, 2019. His politics have been frequently described as far right, and even nationalistic. Bolsanaro has taken a strong stance against drug legalization, same-sex marriage, abortion, affirmative action and even secularism (the separation of politics and religion) itself. Additionally, the president imposed very lax environmental laws, causing the Amazon rainforest to further deteriorate and diminish in size. Bolsanaro has also been accused of harming indigenous populations of Brazil, reflected by the fact that districts with high numbers of indigenous people staunchly oppose his leadership.
Lula, in contrast to Bolsanaro, is strongly left leaning and is considered by most to be a leftist. Lula personally describes himself as a socialist and has promised major change for Brazil, including tackling some of the country's biggest issues such as poverty and hunger. The politician has also pledged to protect indigenous communities and shield the Amazon rainforest from deforestation. Lula was actually the president of Brazil from 2003 to 2010. During this time, he reportedly helped lift 20 million Brazilians out of poverty, and significantly reduced child mortality, illiteracy, and unemployment. In 2017, Lula was charged with corruption and sentenced to nine years in prison. However, he only served two years after his sentence was nulled by a judge. How guilty Lula really is of corruption is a highly controversial issue.
The response to the election results have been mixed to say the least. While many people in the South American country were celebrating, countless supporters of Bolsanaro claimed the election was fraudulent, despite no conclusive evidence displaying that was the case. In fact, pro-Bolsonaro truck drivers have been staging protests throughout the country, disrupting supply lines and increasing traffic delays. It is unclear how long this degree of civil unrest will continue, however conditions fortunately seem to be slowly calming down. While Bolsanaro did not officially accept his loss, he did not attempt to stage a coup or claim outright the election was rigged, something many analysts worried would occur.
The primary reason this Brazilian general election is so important is because of the Amazon rainforest. Analysts and scientists alike believe that if Bolsanaro's extremely lax environmental laws remained for just another four years, damage to the forest could be irreversible.The entire world depends on the Amazon rainforest to absorb carbon dioxide and mitigate the damaging