What’s next for Brazil: Cornell experts on economics, politics post-election

The first round of Brazil’s elections on Oct. 2 will see former leftist president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva face off against right-wing incumbent Jair Bolsonaro.

Gustavo Flores-Macias, professor of government and Associate Vice Provost for International Affairs, is an expert in Latin American politics.

Flores-Macias says: “Polls suggest Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva enjoys a sizable advantage and might avoid a second round of voting, but President Jair Bolsonaro has discredited the electoral process and blamed the media for an uneven playing field. Several reports of violence and intimidation against Lula's supporters have also emerged, and Bolsonaro's proximity to the armed forces remains a concern if the election is contested.

“Both candidates have pointed to their records in office to claim that only they can navigate the current international environment – growing inflation, high energy prices, and a depreciating real – as well as Brazil's domestic challenges, including a fragmented political landscape, byzantine tax system, poor results on education spending, and an aging and deteriorating infrastructure.

“Whoever the winner is, one of the main priorities of the new administration will be to address the stagnation of Brazil's living standards in the last decade.”

Kenneth Roberts, professor of government, studies political parties, populism and social movements in Latin America.

Roberts says: “Brazilian society has become increasingly polarized politically over the past decade, and with the country preparing to vote this weekend in a presidential election that pits a former left-wing president against a right-wing populist incumbent, political violence between supporters of the rival candidates has become a growing concern. These concerns are magnified by the fact that the incumbent president, Jair Bolsonaro, has challenged the integrity of the electoral process and cultivated support from the military institutions in which he started his career. The current election thus poses a major test of the strength of democratic institutions in Latin America's largest country."

For interviews contact Becka Bowyer, cell: (607) 220-4185, rpb224@cornell.edu.

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