Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas
Summit of the Americas

Brazil and Jair Bolsonaro: An Overview



This article is adapted from AQ’special report on the Summit of the Americas. Click here for the full list of countries.

Brazil

President: Jair Bolsonaro

Term: 2019-2023

Dubbed the “Trump of the Tropics,” the former army captain has been widely criticized for his handling of the pandemic and rising deforestation in the Amazon. He was elected on the promise of pro-market reforms, but few have passed Congress and Brazil’s economy remains smaller on a per-capita basis than a decade ago. Bolsonaro met with President Vladimir Putin in Russia a week before the invasion of Ukraine, citing the need for an accord on fertilizers. Campaigning for reelection in October, Bolsonaro gets high marks from supporters for his handling of security (homicides have fallen to their lowest level in more than a decade) and social issues (his recent Supreme Court pick pleased Evangelical Christians), but he still trails his biggest rival, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, in polls. Some observers fear Bolsonaro could attempt to overturn the election if he loses, pointing to his repeated clashes with the Supreme Court and comments questioning the integrity of Brazil’s electronic voting system.

To facilitate comparisons among these 10 countries,
the data is color-coded:   
High performing   
Middle performing   
Low performing

Governance

President’s approval rating* 38%
Capacity to Combat Corruption Index ranking (out of 15 Latin American countries) 10
Share of adults who support democracy* 67%
Military expenditure as % GDP 1.2%

Economy

Performance:   
High   
Middle   
Low
Projected GDP growth 2022 0.5%
Projected inflation 2022 7.6%
Total trade as % of GDP 32%
Unemployment 12.4%
Share of labor force in informal economy 34.8%
Share of population living in extreme poverty 5.1%

Society

Performance:   
High   
Middle   
Low
Population (millions) 214
Homicide rate (per 100,000 people) 18.5
Annual carbon dioxide emissions (millions of tons) 467.4
Share of public social spending on education 9.6%
Global press freedom ranking (out of 180 countries) 111

Argentina | Chile | Colombia | Dominican Republic | Ecuador | Guatemala | Mexico | PeruVenezuela

*NOTES: Approval rating updated May 6. Support for democracy reflects percentage who agree that democracy is preferable to any other form of government.

Sources: Approval rating: PoderData (April); support for democracy: Latin American Public Opinion Project (2021); Capacity to Combat Corruption Index (2022); military expenditure: Stockholm International Peace Institute (2021); GDP, inflation, unemployment: Bloomberg (March); total trade: World Bank (2020); informal labor force: Inter-American Development Bank (2020); poverty, population, education spending: Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (2020); Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index (2021); homicide rate: InSight Crime (2021); CO2 emissions: Global Carbon Project (2020)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sweigart is an editor at Americas Quarterly and a policy manager at the Americas Society/Council of the Americas.

Tags: Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro
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