Fed Up With Corruption, Fresh Faces Take On Brazil’s Political Old Guard

Pedro Markun once thought hacking Brazil’s political system was the best way to change it.

For the last decade, the 32-year-old computer programmer roiled the political establishment with digital intrusions, like cloning the presidential blog to allow comments.

Now, he wants to do more than just shake up the establishment. He wants to defeat it at the ballot box in a bid for a seat in Congress.

Mr. Markun, with a scruffy goatee and a penchant for colorful print shirts, is part of an unprecedented wave of new candidates running for office in Brazil at both the local and national level.

These political novices — activists, economists, entrepreneurs, business executives and lawyers — have been jolted into action by an enormous bribery and corruption scandal that has engulfed all the country’s mainstream parties and taken down powerful politicians.

President Michel Temer, Brazil’s conservative leader, has been charged in the yearslong corruption investigation known as Lava Jato, or Carwash, centered on money laundering at the state-controlled oil company, Petrobras. The former left-wing President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva began serving a 12-year prison sentence related to the case in April.

More than half the country’s senators and one-third of the lawmakers in the lower House are being investigated for crimes. But the vast majority intend to run for re-election in October, when Brazil is also choosing its next president.

According to polls, corruption is the top concern for voters ahead of the election, while confidence in traditional political parties is at an all-time low.

Outsiders are hoping to seize on the discontented national mood to break into a political establishment that has long been closed to disruptive, new voices.

To read the full article by The New York Times, click here.