At the Baffler website, Alex Hochuli traces the political developments in Brazil over the past several years that culminated in the election of neofascist Jair Bolsonaro to the presidency this weekend. Hochuli argues that this was made possible in part by widespread disillusionment with the two parties that have dominated Brazilian politics for decades, the Workers Party (PT) and the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB). Corruption and austerity contributed to this disillusionment on both sides, but Hochuli singles out the PT for its willingness to compromise with financial elites during its time in power, leading much if its working-class base to desert the party.
Here’s an excerpt from Hochuli’s piece:
Bolsonaro’s base is the constituency identified in classic studies of fascism: reactionary small business owners and independent professionals, plus members of the state’s repressive apparatus, the police and armed forces. But it was the backing of the educated upper-middle class—you know, the sensible, cultured, rational types—who propelled him into the political mainstream. By the eve of the first round of voting, Bolsonaro had the support of 41 percent of those with a college education. The next candidate down only had 16 percent. He had around 50 percent support among those households earning over 10 times the minimum wage. On the eve of the second round, his support had soared to 65 percent (versus 27 percent for Haddad) among the Brazilian top 10 percent. Of the regularly tracked demographic groups, this is where Bolsonaro had the biggest lead. Bolsonaro’s rise was no revolt led by the lumpens; rather it was a unified push of Brazil’s socioeconomic power elite, something roughly akin to the specter of well-to-do Hillary voters and Never Trump Republicans coming out for Trump. Except, as should be clear, Bolsonaro is no mere “Trump of the Tropics”—he is much worse.
Image of Jair Bolsonaro via El País.