The Lessons for Western Democracies From the Stunning Victory of Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro

Some of the dynamics of Bolsonaro's victory are unique to Brazil. But many are similar to prevailing political currents throughout Europe and North America.

The right-wing authoritarian Jair Bolsonaro cruised to a 10-point victory on Sunday night in Brazil, becoming president-elect of the world’s fifth most populous country and the most extremist leader in the democratic world. While some of the dynamics driving his victory are unique to Brazil, many of them are similar to prevailing political currents in North America, Eastern Europe and, increasingly, Western Europe.

Bolsonaro’s victory is highly consequential in its own right: For the 210 million people who live within the borders of the country, as well as for the region and the globe, he and his tyrannical movement now dominate. But beyond those consequences, there are valuable lessons to learn for all of the democratic world by understanding the sentiments that led Brazilians en masse to support someone who, a very short time ago, was relegated to the far fringes of political acceptability and whose ascension to power was unimaginable. I explored some of those key lessons in the above eight-minute video.

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