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Assessing the First Six Months of the Bolsonaro Administration in Brazil

On July 1, exactly six months after Bolsonaro’s inauguration, the Brazil Institute held a discussion with Maurício Moura and other experts on the Brazilian government’s performance in the first semester of 2019.

Date & Time

Jul. 1, 2019
10:00am – 12:15pm ET


5th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center
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On July 1, exactly six months after Bolsonaro’s inauguration, the Brazil Institute held a discussion with Maurício Moura and other experts on the Brazilian government’s performance in the first semester of 2019. The event also served to celebrate the release of A eleição disruptiva: Por que Bolsonaro venceu (The Disruptive Election: Why Bolsonaro Won), in which Maurício Moura and Juliano Corbellini examine how a relatively unimportant, far-right congressman came to be president of Brazil, and what that means for the government and its agenda.

 Selected Quotes

Mauricio Moura

“In Brazil, I don’t know the exact number, but right now, we have around 14 million people unemployed, and another 15 million people that are in the informal sector as well, so this is a critical part of the government [of] Bolsonaro moving forward.”

“The Bolsonaro style of communicating to the public is very similar to the Trump style. You never know what’s going to happen [in] the next tweet…. He talks a lot to his base [and] he basically communicates to people that like him [and] that support him.”

“I want to make a point about the relationship between the executive branch and the Congress. The bad news moving forward is that I don’t see, as of today, any political leadership from the presidency to [make] this relationship better.”

Andrea Murta

“His relationship with other powers is a bit controversial. And if I would summarize what’s happening in Brazil in one sentence: Economic proposals are actually moving forward in spite of the government, and not because of the government.”

“Bolsonaro has the luck, let’s say, of having sort of a shared agenda with the leaders of Congress. So Rodrigo Maia, the Speaker of the House, is not moving forward with pension reform to help Bolsonaro. He’s doing that because he believes he will help himself.”

 “If you were to measure support for the social agenda of the Bolsonaro government, it’s very different. Both the House and the Senate have shown that they have little appreciation, at this point, for the most controversial behavioral points that Bolsonaro is proposing, which are important for his base of support.”

Monica de Bolle

“Pension reform is not going to transform Brazil…Brazil has a lot more problems than just these medium-term fiscal issues. When we look at the economy broadly, and when we see how growth has been very, very slow…this is a symptom of something else.”

“Brazil is coming to the end of its demographic bonus; the time when you see the enlargement of the labor force and of the economically active population. And when you couple that with what’s happened to educational quality…what you see is really very dramatic.”

“All of this taken together basically means that pension reform is a great thing, [but] it’s not going to bring growth back. Because there are a number of other things that we would need to do on the structural front to sort of face these issues—these longer-term growth issues. And in addition to that…you need to have some kind of bridge in the short term, especially if you’re facing these very high levels of unemployment.”

“There are many things which are part of this agenda which are very important. One thing that’s sorely lacking is any mention—and any idea—about what to do with the social programs that currently exist, how to strengthen social safety nets in Brazil, and how to rebuild some of the social safety net that has been affected by the 2015-2016 recession.”

“Advances that we’ve made on environment, advances that we’ve made on gender issues, advances that we’ve made on indigenous rights, all of that. We can’t have a backsliding on these issues now, especially not with an economy that’s already weak.”

Thiago de Aragão

“One of the biggest problems produced by this administration so far, in my perception, is the continuous attempt to disqualify politics in general. Politics as a whole.”

“Once the government gets the pension reform approved, we will invariably have an improved perception of the government from society. From there on, the government has two options and two choices. Whether the government will reorganize and have a peaceful dialogue with Congress, or the [government] will continue with a conflictive dialogue with Congress.”

“So what we have is that the posture towards China is not a consensus within the administration. There are individuals, departments, and layers which are very pro-business with China. There are others that are against. There are others that believe you have to choose between the U.S. and China. And there are others that say, ‘Look, we don’t need to choose. We can operate on two lines.’”

To purchase A eleição disruptiva: Por que Bolsonaro venceu, click here


Header Image by Antonio Cruz/ Agência Brasil

Hosted By

Brazil Institute

The Brazil Institute—the only country-specific policy institution focused on Brazil in Washington—works to foster understanding of Brazil’s complex reality and to support more consequential relations between Brazilian and US institutions in all sectors. The Brazil Institute plays this role by producing independent research and programs that bridge the gap between scholarship and policy, and by serving as a crossroads for leading policymakers, scholars and private sector representatives who are committed to addressing Brazil’s challenges and opportunities.  Read more

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