Brazil was once seen as an aspiring “shaping power” capable of fulfilling its potential. But the upheavals of recent years have thrown the country into a serious crisis. In addition to the economic recession, rising unemployment, and a huge national debt, a political escalation led to the suspension of President Dilma Rousseff in May 2016. Her successor, Interim President Michel Temer, and most of his cabinet, as well as the majority of MPs and senators, are under suspicion of corruption and, in some cases, already standing trial. Lula da Silva, former president and figurehead of the Workers’ Party has been convicted of corruption and incarcerated. In order to deal with the economic crisis, the Temer government made much-needed cutbacks; however, these cuts have come at the expense of the achievements made in recent years in the social realm.
These enormous economic, political and social challenges are fertile ground for populism. In the run-up to the 2018 presidential elections, the right-wing populist Jair Bolsonaro has mobilised the educated middle class as well as ultra-conservative voters. With his radical programme, he has disrupted the traditional election campaign dualism between the leftist Workers’ Party and the conservative Social Democrats.
To what extent have the corruption scandal and the right-wing extremist Bolsonaro’s election campaign changed Latin America’s largest economy? What influence will they have on the continent in the future? Will Brazil find its way back to its role as a global shaping power? The GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies analyses these questions and more from an interdisciplinary and cross-regional perspective. The current research findings, analyses, and contact information for our Brazil experts are summarised for you here in our spotlight.