Brazil’s newly elected far-right president pledges to reform public finances

30 Oct 18

Brazil’s newly elected populist president Jair Bolsonaro has pledged to reform government finances and tackle corruption.

The far-right former paratrooper won the election with 55.2% of the votes after 99.9% of the votes were counted, the electoral authorities said on Sunday.

His leftist rival Fernando Haddad secured 44.8% of votes.

After his victory, Bolsonaro, who leads the Social Liberal Party, vowed to reform government finances, including lowering the deficit, shrinking public debts and interest rates.

He has also said he would clamp down on corruption and crime.

In his first public comment after the win, he said: “We cannot continue flirting with socialism, communism, populism and leftist extremism…We are going to change the destiny of Brazil.”

He did not provide any further detail of what the reforms would entail but he has previously said he would slash record murder rates by reintroducing the death penalty.

In 2017 Brazil suffered a record 63,880 homicides, and between 2006 and 2016 a staggering 553,000 people died because of violence.

Brazil faces the highest costs of crime in the region in nominal terms, incurring annual losses of $76bn – 4.4% of GDP. Soaring murder rates alone have cost $120bn in lost productivity since the 1990s.

Bolsonaro, who is a former army captain, will be the first president with a background in the armed forces since the end of Brazil’s military dictatorship in 1964-85.

Many Brazilians are concerned that the president-elect will take a step back on human rights, civil liberties and freedom of speech.

Human Rights Watch also called on judges, prosecutors, media and civil society to stand up against any attempts to “erode the democratic rights and institutions Brazil has painstakingly built in the last three decades”.

Read Gavin O’Toole’s blog saying the poor will shoulder the cost of the far-right president’s pledges.

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