The triumph of far-right populist Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil’s October 2018 presidential election was made possible by a series of economic, social, and political crises that have shaken Brazilian democracy.
The massive corruption revealed by Brazil’s “Operation Car Wash” points to fundamental flaws in multiparty presidential systems, where presidents must find ways to build coalitions in fragmented legislatures.
The use of force and intimidation against women trying to take part in politics is a growing problem in many places. Such violence assumes a number of different forms, but all aim to keep women as women out of public life.
Latin America’s largest country has managed vastly to enlarge the share of its citizens who can take part in politics and need no longer live in poverty, and has robust horizontal accountability to boot. Vertical accountability, however, has suffered.
Public anger at revelations of widespread corruption, along with the rising cost of coalition politics, has brought Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff to the brink of impeachment. Yet the crisis has also revealed the strength of the country’s law-enforcement and judicial institutions.
When it comes to backing democracy and human rights in international forums, the behavior of the world’s six most influential rising democracies ranges from sympathetic support to borderline hostility.
Dilma Rousseff won the 2010 presidential election as the handpicked successor of a towering political personality. Now she must assert firm sway over a ruling party and coalition to which she has remarkably slender ties, and face new challenges that her country cannot meet with “more of the same.”
The left-right ideological divide has begun to narrow in Latin America as citizens and leaders increasingly choose a pragmatic approach to politics and embrace the rules of the democratic game.
Brazil under Lula offers a test case of how politicians and societal interests in developing countries react when economic growth and new possibilities change the name of the game from shock and scarcity to boom and prosperity.
Many saw the election of Workers' Party leader Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva to the Brazilian presidency in October 2002 as the beginning of an era. Two years into his first term, Lula has yet to live up to that expectation.