Everything That’s at Stake in Brazil’s Presidential Election
A side-by-side look at how Bolsonaro and Haddad view women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community based on everything they say—or don’t say—in their administrative proposals.
Fernando Haddad (PT) and Jair Bolsonaro (PSL). Illustrations by Cassio Tisseo/VICE
A version of this article originally appeared on VICE Brazil.
Following the first round of presidential elections on Sunday, October 7, Brazil is headed towards a final showdown between right-wing authoritarian candidate Jair Bolsonaro and left-wing candidate Fernando Haddad of the Workers’ Party. Bolsonaro—whose homophobic, racist and sexist worldview and social media-centric campaign bears striking similarities to that of US President Donald Trump in the 2016 elections—won 46 percent of the vote, while Haddad came in second at 29.3 percent. While large, the margin wasn’t substantial enough to avoid a runoff, and the two candidates will face a second-round vote on October 28.
Given Bolsonaro’s success in the first round—and that of his far-right Social Liberal Party (PSL), which was equally successful in last Sunday’s legislative elections—it’s no surprise he’s the clear favorite. Still, the public must vote. (Voting is compulsory for Brazilians aged 18 to 70.) Since the plans outlined by each candidate—including what they’ve said or have failed to say—can directly impact the lives of Brazilian voters, VICE Brazil analyzed each candidate’s stance on important issues like racial equality and rights for women, workers, and the LGBTQ community. Here’s a side-by-side summary of their proposals by topic based on the plans Haddad and Bolsonaro submitted to the Top Electoral Court.
The Workers’ Party candidate’s plan, called O Povo Feliz de Novo (“The People Happy Again”), focuses on several issues that affect the Brazilian youth. He promises to create the “My Employment Again” program, which is geared towards young adults seeking qualification to enter various professional industries. He also says he’ll cut taxes for both private and public academic institutions that offer associate’s and bachelor’s degrees, and increase resources for the latter. He adds that he’ll support young people's direct participation in politics, and that he wants to be present for the National Plan for the Youth and the National System of Youth, two federal initiatives geared towards improving the lives of young people in Brazil.
His administrative plan (which is called “Project Phoenix,” according to the browser tab) doesn’t go into specific details about the majority of the themes listed here. But it does feature a number of fabrications, including incorrect statistics that assert the annual number of deaths caused by the Brazilian police is lower than it actually is. Bolsonaro’s only proposal that is directly related to the Brazilian youth consists of lowering the age of criminal responsibility from 18 years old to 16 years old.
Haddad promises to push for equal pay for equal work; increase compensation and length of maternity leave; expand the Brazilian Women’s House, which protects female victims of violence; strengthen a law called Maria da Penha, which guarantees protection for victims of domestic violence and holds perpetrators legally accountable; and ensure vital healthcare coverage for women, including where it concerns “sexual and reproductive rights.”
Bolsonaro’s plan doesn’t dedicate any specific political attention to women's issues. The only instance in which “women” are mentioned in his plan is in a graphic detailing the rates at which women and children are raped in Brazil. The graphic is not presented with further explanation but presumably ties into Bolsonaro's staunchly anti-crime platform.
Aside from political moves tailored to specific professions, Haddad’s labor plan entails adjusting the minimum wage to account for inflation that’s occurred over the past year and the GDP growth of the previous two years. He aims to repeal the country’s current labor reform to facilitate a dialogue about reducing the average shift duration for Brazilian workers. He also reiterates his commitment to the aforementioned “My Employment Again” program and increasing employment opportunities throughout the country.
The PSL candidate vows to create a “green-and-yellow workers’ identification card” that would be used in addition to the current ID required for national workers. The difference between the current ID and the one Bolsonaro is proposing is that the latter would allow employers to “negotiate” with their employees and establish specific terms and stipulations that don’t adhere to existing Brazilian labor laws. The new card would be given to young adults and could contribute to the downfall of the CLT (Consolidation of Labor Laws, AKA the federal legislation outlining workers’ rights) considering that employers could theoretically choose to only hire people who agree to work without receiving the benefits that the CLT currently imposes.
Racial equality still remains a very important topic in Brazil. It’s a key factor in several spheres, from healthcare campaigns that seek broader representation for the population to positions in public service and politics. Haddad, who served as the Mayor of São Paulo from 2013 to 2017, aims to implement (currently unspecified) measures to increase wages and the number of available jobs in private companies for Brazilians of color. He also promises to launch a National Plan of Mortality Reduction for Black Youths, which his administration will create in cooperation with the public.
There’s nothing specific in Bolsonaro’s plan that promotes racial equality. There’s only a generic part that states “every form of inequality will not be permitted.” Publicly, Bolsonaro has promised to scale back affirmative action policies and argued that Afro-Brazilians aren’t owed anything because of slavery.
Regarding members of the LGBTQ community, Haddad’s plan highlights the creation of a law that would specify different types of hate crimes, including violence against LGBTQ individuals. He also promises to create a network against LGBTQ violence with the assistance of various state and federal organizations. In addition, he promises to expand the Transcidadania Project, an initiative he implemented during his term as Mayor of São Paulo that provides scholarships to vulnerable members of the trans community.
Aside from his previous mention that “inequality will not be permitted,” there’s only one reference to the LGBTQ community in Bolsonaro’s proposal. It’s surreptitiously negative: the candidate positions himself against the “indoctrination” and “precocious sexualization” of children that he alleges occurs in Brazil’s public schools.
Haddad believes that “ample access to cultural assets and services [are] guaranteed civil rights.” He vows to revise several matters that were forgotten by President Michel Temer’s administration, such as the National System of Culture (SNC) and the National Cultural Plan, an initiative established in 2010 with the goal of implementing long-term public policies geared at protecting and promoting Brazilian cultural diversity. He also plans on progressively increasing resources for the Department of Culture until it encompasses at least one percent of the federal budget. His other key points include enforcing the Law of Living Culture, which facilitates the operation of cultural initiatives, consolidates national regulations for literature, supports the audiovisual sector, and protects museums and cultural institutions.
Bolsonaro’s plan doesn’t include any cultural policies for his administration.
Haddad believes that Brazil’s current drug laws are “erroneous, unjust, and ineffective.” He argues that his administration will focus less on unarmed drug dealers, who are often the primary residents of Brazil’s prison system, and instead will target national and international trafficking factions and organizations. His proposed prevention efforts intersect with other areas, like healthcare and education. He also commits to analyzing international efforts that seek to decriminalize the use of narcotics.
Bolsonaro’s plan doesn’t reference any drug laws he intends to propose. (Publicly, he has campaigned around a vigorously anti-drug platform, going so far as to encourage extrajudicial killings by police and generally fighting drug crime with increased use of force.)
He does, however, attempt to link substance abuse to liberal administrations by stating that “drug use is prominent in countries under liberal administrations such as Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Mexico, and Venezuela.” It’s worth noting that Honduras has been governed by a right-wing party since 2010, and Mexico's current president, Enrique Peña Nieto, is a member of the center-right wing Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).
He wants to rescue the National Human Rights Program, a federal initiative which includes a popular conference that brings together people across various demographics, such as members of the LGBTQ community, senior citizens, indigenous Brazilians, and people with disabilities. Haddad also intends to relaunch previously ignored federal human rights divisions devoted to Women’s Rights and Racial Equality and to integrate Brazil into the International Human Rights System. He adds that democracy and human rights are “codependent.”
Bolsonaro’s only mention of human rights comes in the form of a bullet point towards the end of his outline that asserts his administration’s commitment to “redirection of politics and human rights, prioritizing the protection of victims of violence.” Incidentally, he’s made similar promises to loosen gun laws.
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