The first year of the Jair Bolsonaro era is coming to an end and life goes on. And despite rude statements, here and there, flirting with authoritarian regimes–which, while not surprising to anyone, should be severely repudiated–democracy continues to make its way in Brazil.
Whether or not you like the president and his government, it is certain that catastrophic predictions made by candidates defeated in 2018 have not been confirmed. Permanent political conflicts make the scenery hazy, but the wheel is still spinning.
Politics is very pragmatic: it demands theater, verbiage and factoids. But behind the scenes in Brasilia, the way power is exercised changes little from government to government.
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With Bolsonaro, it’s no different, though his most hysterical followers can’t–or won’t–see it. The president who was elected promising to “put an end to all that is out there” soon realized that, as a hostage to the current political system, he would have to please the Congress and cultivate a generous relationship with the justice system.
Bolsonaro is the same blabber of the campaign period and will not change. Certain that he has about one third of the Brazilian electorate in his hands, he plays strategically for this audience, betting on a permanent polarization with the center-left Workers Party–the party that was defeated in 2018 presidential election and whose top leader, the former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, was condemned for corruption and money laundering. So anyone expecting a president in the next three years may develop an ulcer. The quest for reelection, of course, has begun.
Bolsonaro knows that, in order to remain in power, he must strength Brazil’s economic foundations, favoring the resumption of private investments and guaranteeing the creation of job opportunities–Mauricio Macri’s defeat in neighboring Argentina serves as a warning if he fails to achieve these goals.
Minister Paulo Guedes’s team has struggled with its relationship with Congress–the postponement of the tax reform to 2020 is an example of this–but the flight plan for the country’s economy continues to please the market, pointing out for significant advances on the horizon.
Although dehydrated, the approval of the Social Security reform this year is undoubtedly a victory for the health of the Brazilian public accounts. The country’s benchmark interest rate has reached its lowest level ever, inflation is under control and below the previously set target, the Brazilian stock exchange has broken records, and Brazil’s Debt Risk has fallen.
Moreover, the growth of the Brazilian economy next year, if all goes well, should exceed 2%, analysts predict. It’s no small feat for an economy that was in shambles just before Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment in 2016.
With so much political noise, it seems that Jair Bolsonaro has been in government for a longer time. Crises starring their children and their congressional allies take the focus off the good results, the economic agenda and the discussion around issues that really matter, such as education and public safety.
At the end of this government, we will have the feeling that we have lived an eternity. Bolsonaro will continue to make noise, but make no mistake: he has already understood the pragmatism of politics.