Jair Bolsonaro speaks at an event of the National Confederation of Municipalities in Brasilia, Brazil, on 23 May 2018.
Photo: Sérgio Lima / Bloomberg via Getty Images
"I would be unable to love a homosexual son," said Jair Bolsonaro Playboy magazine in 2011. "I will not be a hypocrite: I prefer a child to die in an accident rather than to show up with a mustache, but it would have died for me anyway."
Brazil's far right presidential candidate has not moderated his rhetoric much since 2011, and seems to have little incentive to do so. A new poll by Ibope puts Bolsonaro's lead on his opponent, Fernando Haddad of the Center Left Workers' Party, at about 18 points, despite – or perhaps due – a public figure formed of racism, nationalism and an authoritarian affection for the armed forces Brazilian. Bolsonaro said that some black Brazilians are not "suitable for procreation", that a female politician "is not worth rape, it is very ugly" and that the country's violently repressive military dictatorship was "a period of glory for Brazil" . The politician, who has served in the Chamber of Deputies of Brazil since 1991, has been compared to Donald Trump repeatedly, and for obvious reasons.
If Bolsonaro wins the October 28 outflow election, it will not only mark a victory for the right wing of Brazil. A Bolsonaro presidency would also provide new strength to an increasingly powerful global right-wing movement. In Poland, 60,000 right-wing nationalists he marched through the streets of Warsaw chanting slogans like "pure blood, lucid mind" and "Europe will be white or uninhabited" in January. In Hungary, Viktor Orbán constantly feeds anti-immigrant sentiments. The far right populist Italian has gained new power in the last general election in the country, and immigrants once again carry the biggest burden. Matteo Salvini, the new Italian interior minister, has recently called for the removal of all refugees from the city of Riace. And then, of course, there is Trump.
The right-wing forts like Bolsonaro do not gain power without learning to manipulate a particular set of interconnected prejudices. Religious voters, usually conservative and evangelical Catholics, have repeatedly aligned themselves with nationalist leaders, who in turn deploy religion to justify their policies. The Italian Salvini, Catholic, he said he wanted to "exercise all possible power" to "defend the natural family founded on the union between a man and a woman". The Russian Orthodox Church provides key support to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Polish President Andrzej Duda, another conservative Catholic, has taken steps to tighten the already restrictive abortion laws of the country and in February signed a new law that criminalizes the speech that asserts the Polish systemic participation in the crimes of the Third Reich against the Jews. (After an international protest, Duda signed a modified version of the law that did not criminalize the word.) In May, the Hungarian speaker announced to parliament that "the era of liberal democracy is over" and has added: "Rather than trying to set a liberal in a democracy that has run aground, we will build a 21st century Christian democracy". Orbán's vision of Christian democracy bears little resemblance to the German Chancellor Angela Merkel's party, the Christian Democratic Union; like in New York Times noticed at the time, the concept of Orbán derives from his personal belief that Christianity is in mortal conflict with Islam. And while Trump hardly behaves like a faithful church visitor, he would not have won the presidency without the overwhelming support of white evangelical voters. That block remains committed to him despite his moral scandals.
At this time, it seems that the three times Bolsonaro can also count on the support of the evangelical voters of his country. Although Catholic, Bolsonaro maintains close ties with the powerful evangelical movement in Brazil, which embraces a wide range of Protestant denominations and traditions, such as neo-Pentecostalism. His wife and son are both evangelicals, like L & # 39; Atlantic reported in January, and the same Bolsonaro says to attend an evangelical church. Sixty-six percent of self-identified evangelicals say they will vote for him on Haddad. He too leads Catholics, but with a much smaller margin; 48% say they want to vote for him on the 28th.
"As in the United States, evangelicals and devout Catholics are united by the common opposition to abortion and the rights of homosexuals, especially gay marriage," said Omar Encarnación, professor of political studies at Bard College. New York. The two groups have experienced "tension", he added, because Brazil historically privileges Catholicism. This could explain the disparity between Evangelical and Catholic voters about Bolsonaro. But that religious division may not be enough to cost him the election.
Encarnación states that Bolsonaro's antagonism towards LGBT rights is an interest that it shares with the country's Evangelicals. "Having said this, the roots of Bolsonaro's opposition to LGBT rights, feminism, the environment and the like are, first of all, his passion for authoritarianism, which stems from his admiration for the military, "he added, noting that Bolsonaro was once a paratrooper with the Brazilian army. "What triggered his famous attack on his congress colleague, Maria do Rosário, what he called too ugly to rape, was his criticism of the Brazilian military regime underway between 1964 and 1985," he continued.
Evangelicals are hardly the only demographic in support of Bolsonaro. His commitments to fight corruption and end the violence – more violently if necessary – are key to his popularity and have earned him the support of a large share of the Brazilian population. Bolsonaro is not a messianic figure, as much as he is a strong popular man in a deeply conservative country. But while a Bolsonaro government might not be a theocracy in the literal sense, there are warning signs that its potential presidency will somehow enlarge some flaws in the democracy of Brazil. Evangelical politicians have been accomplices of this process.
"Back in 1964, some right-wing protesters affiliated to a conservative wing of the Catholic Church came to the streets to ask for military intervention, the Church discouraged this type of reaction after the fall of the dictatorship, but Pentecostals have revived it ", recently wrote Bryan McCann, president of the Brazilian Studies Association. Dissent. In more recent years, he added, the evangelical bloc o bancada evangélica in the congress of Brazil he helped to support the anti-corruption campaign that led to the dismissal of Dilma Rousseff in 2016. Rousseff, like his predecessor Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, belonged to the Workers' Party, and Lula's supporters condemned his incarceration for corruption accuses as a politically motivated offer to prevent the former popular president to apply. Haddad is challenging Bolsonaro because the Brazilian Supreme Electoral Court forced Lula to end the presidential campaign that was escaping from a cell.
"Some Brazilians fear, not precise parallels with the past, but scary new scenarios," the journalist Vincent Bevins recently observed in a piece for The New York Book Magazine. "Perhaps Rousseff's removal was only the prologue, the first act, followed by a Bolsonaro victory, and then the consolidation of the authoritarian dominion: a dictatorship of the digital age that does not need intervention. direct of the army to suppress dissent and govern by decree. " supporters of Bolsonaro have already committed hate crimes. Agência Pública, a group of investigative journalists, has linked at least 50 attacks to journalists, left-wing activists and LGBT people to Bolsonaro supporters since September. After The Guardian published those numbers on Friday, according to reports that the assailants killed Aluisio Sampaio, a prominent figure in the movement of landless workers in Brazil. Sampaio, which was called Alenquer, had long received death threats, but as environmental journalists Sue Branford and Maurício Torres reported for Mongabay.com, Bolsonaro publicly condemned landless activists, calling them "rascals and bums", and Sampio's murder coincides with other acts of violence against the demographic data Bolsonaro has attacked. In contrast, Bolsonaro supporters have been subject to six attacks – a number that includes the same Bolsonaro, who was stabbed during an election rally.
If democracy suffers under Bolsonaro, or because it maintains an older promise of "immediately starting a dictatorship" or because its followers decide to act on its violent anti-LGBT and misogynist rhetoric, it will happen with evangelical assistance. Brazil would have become the latest in a disturbing register, another government in the minds of the far right.
The Christian right has always been a global entity and the cultural war is a conflict without borders. The nationalism of figures like Bolsonaro is not only concerned with the physical or economic security of the ruling class of a nation, but is built around a request for moral hygiene. Conservative Christians who charge men like Bolsonaro do so with the knowledge that they will be able to apply an agenda that exposes minority groups of civil rights. From Bolsonaro's distaste for homosexuals to Orbán's supremacist definition of Christian democracy, the goal of this Christian-inflected nationalism is to shape the government of a nation in its anti-democratic image.