Brazilian right-wing congressman Jair Bolsonaro has won a runoff election to become Brazil’s next president. Bolsonaro defeated opponent Fernando Haddad with 55.1 percent of the vote. The two men, on opposite sides of the political spectrum, faced each other after they were the two top vote-getters in the first round of elections on October 7. Since no candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote in those earlier elections, a runoff was required.
Brazil has been suffering from violent crime, corruption, and a major economic recession all at the same time. Bolsonaro owes his victory to his promise to resolve these issues. In particular, Bolsonaro has taken a tough stance on crime, promising to improve policing against criminals and to clean up corruption in Brasilia.
Bolsonaro promises to effect major changes to Brazilian society, politics, and international relations. In addition to tackling crime and corruption, Bolsonaro has promised to liberalize Brazil’s highly regulated economy. He will start by privatizing state-owned oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras) and power company Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras SA (Eletrobras). He also intends to reform pensions by increasing the retirement age. Finally, he will focus on developing the agricultural and mining sectors of Brazil’s economy.
In terms of foreign policy, Bolsonaro has promised to reduce reliance on China and Mercosur. He will work to improve relations with the U.S. and other Western countries by negotiating bilateral trade deals. Having a message similar to that of U.S. President Donald Trump, Bolsonaro appears to be developing a close relationship with the president that will bode well for relations between their two countries.
While Bolsonaro has promised to cut the budget deficit, the Brazilian military will likely do well under his presidency. Bolsonaro has promised to use the military to conduct routine street patrols in Brazilian cities to combat crime. Bolsonaro has also defended Brazil’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship, an indicator of how he favors the military. As a result, defense spending will likely climb under Bolsonaro.
Author Bill Ostrove covers Latin America & Caribbean for Forecast International’s International Military Markets series, where he brings a wealth of expertise on the political and economic forces shaping these markets. The IMM series examines the military capabilities, equipment requirements, and force structures inventories of 140 countries, with corresponding coverage of the political and economic trends shaping the defense outlook for these individual countries and regions.