A view from Brazil: Democracy wins in the South American nation | The Financial Express

A view from Brazil: Democracy wins in the South American nation

Lula, by far, has more credibility in terms of demonstrating statesmanship towards preserving the democratic order. This could be already witnessed in terms of how world leaders have reached out in complementing Lula.

A view from Brazil: Democracy wins in the South American nation
Supporters of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva celebrated as he edged ahead against incumbent Jair Bolsonaro. (Photo: Reuters)

By Dr Umesh Mukhi

Brazil’s democracy has witnessed huge turbulence in the past decade; these include former President Dilma’s impeachment, major corruption operation Lava Jato which led former President and Present President Elect Lula behind the bars. These factors eventually led to the election of Right Wing President Bolsonaro whose management specifically drew criticism with respect to preservation and finally in terms of disaster management and denial of Covid-19 pandemic in Brazil.

Considering these macro-contextual factors, Lula’s victory of (Lula 50.90 percent and Bolsonaro 49.10 percent) by a few margin offers insights for the world.

The results show the extreme nature of ideological polarization in Brazilian society, as if there were two Brazils existing in parallel. Surprisingly the polarization has deepened despite the disastrous management of Covid-19, rising inflation, hunger and poverty. This reflects that there are micro-level, regional and religious and also technological factors such as Fake news which may drive ideological shifts to voters for a specific candidate.

Lula, by far, has more credibility in terms of demonstrating statesmanship towards preserving the democratic order. This could be already witnessed in terms of how world leaders have reached out in complementing Lula. The stance of Lula in showing preoccupation towards resolving urgent environmental and poverty issues would also help Brazil to regain its legitimacy, specifically considering that forthcoming G20 is in India.

Despite international credibility, Lula’s national credibility would have to face divided Brazilian voters who still bear frustration, anguish about the inaction towards corruption, and accusations which are still alive in the memory of Bolsonaro’s voters.

Also Read: Pink tide rises in Brazil: Lula back for third term, expert outlines challenges

Over the past decades the world was accustomed to pursue Democracy and Economic agenda for growth in a less volatile scenario. Brazil’s elections highlight that democracy and economic policy cannot be theoretically planned. The economic crises in UK, Europe’s Gas dependency on Russia, and Chile’s Constitutional Reform are some examples of how developed and developing economies are struggling to cope with economic and democratic stability.

That is to say almost every variable which would be a nightmare for a head of state or the minister of economy such as Fake News, Russia-Ukraine War, Pandemic has caused disruption in Global Supply Chain thereby causing ripple effects in various sectors such as Health (in terms of vaccine) , Food Security and Chip Scarcity. Not to deny that the direct and indirect effects of global crises end up stimulating rising income inequality thereby affecting those who are already marginalized.

Also Read: People in Brazil have high expectations from Lula: Expert

In the case of Brazil, the last and by far the most crucial point is that democracy and economic policy cannot escape the needs of a vulnerable population. Polarized voters need to understand that despite their ideological preferences and different purchasing power, they are bound by the common constitutional structure, common challenges and a history which is rooted in slavery and colonialism. Thus whereas the vote of every citizen counts, Brazil wont advance unless Brazilians leave their polarized positions and come face to face to collectively reconcile with their past and resolve these issues.

 Author is Professor of Management at Fundação Getúlio Vargas ‘s São Paulo School of Business Administration (FGV EAESP).

Disclaimer: Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position of the author’s institution or policy of Financial Express Online. Reproducing this content without permission is prohibited.

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First published on: 01-11-2022 at 14:40 IST