Why was Jair Bolsonaro elected President of Brazil? This is a question that many people around the world are asking. It seemed rather surprising that a diverse and democratic nation like Brazil would elect someone who is antidemocratic and intolerant of people who are not white males like him (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/28/jair-bolsonaro-wins-brazil-presidential-election). The reasons have to deal with continuing collapse of the largest political party in Brazil, the Worker’s Party.
The Worker’s Party was founded by former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. President da Silva, often just called Lula, led Brazil to unprecedented prosperity, but the global recession in 2008 and scandals during Operation Car Wash under Worker’s Party president Dilma Rousseff destroyed this legacy. (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/07/world/americas/brazil-lula-surrenders-luiz-inacio-lula-da-silva-.html)
I personally consider Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to have been probably the best president Brazil ever had, based off of his accomplishments in Brazil, but the corruption of both his and his successor’s administrations have left Brazil tired of the rule of the Worker’s Party and desperate for change.
So, unfortunately, the candidate who made it to the second round of presidential elections in Brazil, former mayor of Sao Paolo Fernando Haddad, had to deal with the negative developments in the reputation of his party even though there is no evidence that he was corrupt.
The negative developments here left Brazil desperate for a change. This is where Bolsonaro comes in. He had been a member of the Chamber of Deputies, the lower chamber of Congress, since 1991. However, he was not respected. He was like Congressmen Steve King is here; almost no one took his ideas seriously, but he kept on getting reelected anyway. Brazil has long had a history of racism playing a large role in its society, much like the United States of America, and Jair Bolsonaro was considered a loony remnant of this past.
But, starting in the early 2010’s, rightwing populism rose in many countries. And since Brazil had been run by the left since 2003, the dissatisfaction there was particularly strong. Brazil has long had significant rightwing tendency, with it having a monarchy at one point and more recently a military junta. The tendency combined with dissatisfaction with the corruption with the Worker’s Party governments made it ripe for an especially rightwing leader like Bolsonaro. Ultimately, these elements brought him to the presidency. I can only hope that Brazil can survive this challenge.