Brazil’s landslide election of a president determined to restore rule of law, protect political and economic freedoms, and set a new course for the erstwhile economic powerhouse – is heartening. After a similar election in Colombia last summer, this Brazilian turn represents a steep bank away from Venezuela’s collapsing socialist model.
As Venezuela continues to slide into the morass of socialist oppression, economic mismanagement, and indifference to human misery, Brazilians turned out in overwhelming numbers to take an opposite course. As Venezuela hemorrhages humanity, producing 2.3 million refugees, Brazilians reasserted control over their future.
Specifically, on October 28th, Jair Bolsonaro was freely elected on the promises of reduced crime, elevated respect for law enforcement and rule of law, stronger ties to the United States, wider domestic and foreign investment, and greater individual liberty. The shift is notable.
The new Brazilian leader brings 30 years of government experience, yet is keenly focused on private economic growth and rolling back violent crime, which has recently diminished public confidence, health and safety. His opponent was an avowed leftist, former mayor and member of the “Worker’s Party,” which has been dogged by corruption.
Whether dubbed a red wave, blue wave or just a big wave, Bolsonaro recorded a 56 percent win, against his opponent Fernando Haddad’s 44 percent. The victory also capped a surge in patriotism, often showcased in celebratory rallies.
The message sent and received could not be more pointed. The victory essentially highlights regional awareness that socialism represents a dark, dangerous, dead end street – economically and politically. Said Bolsonaro, “We couldn’t continue to flirt with communism and socialism,” adding “Now we will lead with God …”
Notable also is the sense that realism and life experience – in and out of government – counts. Brazil has proud history, not least as an engine of economic growth across the region – and famously as part of a once-thriving group of emerging economies.
At 63 years of age, Bolsonaro’s sense of renewed commitment to economic and political freedom, and stated respect for individual liberties, may be a sign of things to come across and beyond the region. Although he is described as a nationalist, a more accurate moniker might be traditionalist, with a strong sense of Brazilian patriotism and economic nationalism.
Analogies can be overdrawn, along with the influence imputed to one international leader by another, but President Trump has proven that the alloy created by reduced federal regulation, lower federal taxes, elevated national security, respect for military, law enforcement, rule of law, economic nationalism and resurgent patriotism packs a punch.
The Brazilian economy may not register a four percent growth rate any time soon – as the US economy has – but Brazilians may be paying attention to the American growth rate. Colombia also recently shifted toward a more conservative leader, promising less government, more private sector growth, personal security and individual liberty. As Venezuela flounders, Brazil may be marking a trend in the other direction. One way or the other, the election marks a shift – toward more conservative leadership – in Brazil.