Bolsonarism, an extreme right close to the United States

Appearing only in 2018 but already deeply rooted in Brazil, Bolsonarism has many features in common with the extreme right wing in power in Europe – Hungary, Poland, soon Italy – but is closer to the American alt-right and Trumpism. .

Whether or not Jair Bolsonaro is reelected in the second round of the presidential election on October 30, the coming to power in Brasilia of the far right has responded, as elsewhere, to profound upheavals in society, analysts believe.

“We find the roots of all these extreme rights in an economic and social crisis which worsens from year to year, the increase in inequalities, the drop in income of the working and middle classes”, explains Christophe Ventura, director of research at Iris, “this causes the rise of general mistrust”.

So we have to drive out the political class “which is rotten and incapable”, install “virtuous people, a more authoritarian government”, continues this specialist in Latin America. Globalization and free trade are accused of all evils.

In Europe, from Italy (Fratelli d’Italia) to Hungary (Fidesz), via Poland (Law and Justice Party), but also in Sweden (Democrats of Sweden) or France (National Rally, Reconquest) , the extreme right “want to close the borders, and they blame the immigrants for the crisis”, recalls Geraldo Monteiro, director of the Brazilian center for studies and research on democracy at the State University of Rio (UERJ) .

But Brazil is no longer a land of welcome, “immigrants are not an important theme” and Islamophobia or anti-Semitism are not widespread as in Europe.

“National solidarity”, at Jair Bolsonaro, will therefore apply to “good people” and not to “corrupt”.

On the list of enemies from within are minorities — LBGT, indigenous people — human rights activists, environmentalists, the world of the media, academia or culture, assimilated to this left ” communist” hated, that of ex-president Lula, favorite of the second round.

– A strong, virile power –

As with any extreme right, the holy trinity of Bolsonarism is: God, country, family. The latter is threatened by gay marriage, abortion or gender ideology.

In Brazil, powerful neo-Pentecostal evangelicals are the guardians of the temple. In Europe, it is the fundamentalist Catholics.

“We don’t really find Bolsonaro’s militarism in the European extreme right,” notes Mr. Monteiro. Brazil “keeps the memory of the dictatorship” (1964-85) and Bolsonaro has integrated many soldiers into his government. He wants strong, virile power.

Similarly “the pro-weapon discourse does not exist in Europe”, notes Mr. Ventura. This speech which encourages each individual to defend his safety, “his interests, private property, including with weapons”.

“The priority point of support” of the Bolsonarist far right “was the United States” of Trump, says the researcher, who sees “a lot of cousinage with the Tea Party and the American alt-right”.

For Mayra Goulart, professor of political science at the Federal University of Rio (UFRJ), in this populism, “the leader is the direct representative of the people”. He will attack what mediates in democracy: parties, institutions, the media.

Bolsonarism, like the American alt-right and Trumpism, has attacked institutions. Bolsonaro has dealt many blows to the Supreme Court and the “fraudulent” electoral system.

A Brazilian remake of the Capitol Storm is feared if it loses on October 30. Like Donald Trump did, Bolsonaro insults journalists and despises the mainstream press. He almost only communicates via social networks flooded with “alternative truth” and conspiracy theories.

– Hate speech –

Similarly, Bolsonaro’s anti-science rhetoric, exemplified by his strong resistance to lockdowns and covid-19 vaccines, or his climate-skepticism, have been modeled on those of Trump and the alt-right.

It was about protecting economic interests. Bolsonarism shares with Trumpism “neo-liberalism, a pro-market and pro-entrepreneurial discourse”, notes Ms. Goulart, while for the National Rally in France, for example, the enemy is the markets.

Similarly, the absolute freedom of expression claimed by the alt-right movement is found in the unfiltered hate speech propagated by Bolsonarist networks in Brazil.

Trump like Bolsonaro, anti-system candidates, “came to power unexpectedly”, concludes Geraldo Monteiro.

These leaders “who present themselves as the people themselves can put thousands of people on the streets”.


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