In Brazil elections
Runoff results by state of the Brazilian Presidential Election, 2018 Wikipedia: Jules Rohault - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Runoff results by state of the Brazilian Presidential Election, 2018
Wikipedia: Jules Rohault – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

In the wake of the Brazilian election, this original NCW article examines the results and asks whether the country actually did endorse Bolsonaro and his policies. “The validity of the election was in any case under question because the most popular opposition candidate, Lula, was jailed and denied the right to stand on grounds widely recognized as trumped-up, prior to an election which was itself the outcome of the equally questionable unseating  of Brazil’s elected president Dilma Rousseff…”

By the editors

Original NCW article, Nov 17, 2018
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The election of a Brazilian president committed to a range of openly fascist policies has sent shockwaves through the Western body politic. But have Brazilians actually endorsed this man and his policies? The validity of the election was in any case under question because the most popular opposition candidate, Lula, was jailed and denied the right to stand on grounds widely recognised as trumped-up, prior to an election which was itself the outcome of the equally questionable unseating  of Brazil’s elected president Dilma Rousseff – placing briefly in office Michel Temer who, with  popular support estimated at between 4% and 6%, was arguably the least democratically-representative president in Latin American history.

The elections thus already violate the normal rules of liberal democracy and indeed, if the governments of Canada and the US were to apply to Brazil the same standards that led them to impose sanctions on Venezuela, they would tomorrow impose the same measures on Bolsonaro and his many proven corrupt colleagues.

But did the Brazilian people not, nevertheless, ‘choose’ Bolsonaro? Is he not the ‘democratically elected’ leader of the Brazilian state? The most widely-touted figure in the Western Press is the percentage of votes cast for candidates, being (in the second round) 57,797,947 or 55.13% for Bolsonaro and 47,040,906 for the leading opposition candidate or 44.87%. Interestingly, even this result is lower than the share of votes obtained by Maduro in the recent presidential election in Venezuela.

Yet a careful analysis of the results shows that this verdict is far from accurate. It leaves out of account 11,094, 698 votes recorded as invalid or blank. Thus, if the candidate’s share is calculated as a percentage of votes cast,we have the somewhat different result of 49.9% for Bolsonaro, as shown in table 1. However, even this figure overstates the vote for Bolsonaro, since voting in Brazil is mandatory; a failure to vote is therefore a significantly greater statement than in the US or the UK, where voting is optional. Bolsonaro’s share of registered voters at 39.2% is therefore a more realistic measure of his actual support.

Table 1 Votes cast in the second round of the 2018 Brazilian elections

Source: Wikipedia, derived from Globo

This casts a very different light on the legitimacy of the results of the Brazilian election. The  eleven million spoiled or blank votes – a million more than in the first round – cannot simply be treated as a neutral or irrelevant choice. They represent a conscious voter rejection of the electoral process as a whole and should be counted as part of the vote against Bolsonaro. Nor can the further 32 million voters who – illegally – did not take part in the vote be idly set aside in the context of a mandatory voting system.

Fascism, historically, has – whenever voted into power, as opposed to merely seizing it – always achieved its victories by two characteristic methods. First, though in a minority, it takes decisive measures to secure control of the state and in particular the means of violence and the judiciary, relying on a vacillating or tacitly consenting middle ground driven by fear of the leftwing alternative. Second, it simply eliminates its opposition.

These two tactics were both centre ground in the Brazilian election. The judiciary did not act neutrally but as a political agency, initially deposing the elected president Dilma Rousseff on grounds that were strongly challenged within the judiciary itself and are widely considered illegitimate, and then refusing Lula the right to stand as a candidate, on even more dubious grounds.

The simplistic view that ‘Bolsonaro won’ cannot therefore be allowed to go unchallenged. Bolsonaro has taken power – and that is a very different matter.

Table 2: votes cast in the first and second round of the 2018 Brazilian presidential election

Source: Wikipedia, derived from Globo

 

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EDITOR’S NOTE: We remind our readers that publication of articles on our site does not mean that we agree with what is written. Our policy is to publish anything which we consider of interest, so as to assist our readers in forming their opinions. Sometimes we even publish articles with which we totally disagree, since we believe it is important for our readers to be informed on as wide a spectrum of views as possible.

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Nacho Doce/Reuters