Posts Tagged ‘Brazil’

Democracy at a crossroads in Brazil and the US

October 12, 2018

As Jair Bolsonaro edges closer to presidential victory, democracy in South and North America has rarely seemed so fragile

By Jeffrey Rubin  /  The Guardian

Voters in Brazil and the US face elections in the coming weeks whose outcomes will directly influence the future of democracy in the Americas.

In Brazil, the candidate who captured 46 percent of the votes in the first-round presidential elections on Saturday last week, Social Liberal Party candidate Jair Bolsonaro, advocates torture and speaks in favor of military rule as a way to solve deep societal problems.

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Jair Bolsonaro — Presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro is pictured during a news conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil October 11, 2018. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes Reuters


Bolsonaro is to face Brazilian Workers’ Party candidate Fernando Haddad, who gained 29.3 percent of the first-round votes, in final elections on Oct. 28.

Elsewhere, the process of filling Anthony Kennedy’s seat on the US Supreme Court underscored the indifference, if not contempt, with which US President Donald Trump and Republicans in the US Congress treat basic democratic norms. Pro- and anti-Trump forces have mobilized voters around this and other crucial issues, such as immigration and women’s rights, for midterm elections there on Nov 6.

Despite differing histories and cultures, the political events and electoral campaigns in Brazil and the US exhibit striking similarities.

In North and South America alike, they raise a haunting question: In the human rights struggles of the 21st century, who will count as citizens?

Brazil is the fourth-largest democracy in the world and the US the second-largest. In 2002 and 2008 respectively, the voters of both countries elected presidents different from any who had preceded them: In the US, an African-American, and in Brazil, a steel worker and union leader with little formal education. Each of these presidents, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Barack Obama, fostered gender and racial inclusion and implemented key aspects of the left-of-center platforms on which they had campaigned.

Lula brought millions of Brazilians out of poverty with his bolsa familia program of aid to poor families and opened Brazil’s universities to black and working-class students.

Obama extended medical access to millions through his health insurance reform, supported racial and gender equality through federal policies and Supreme Court appointments, and joined the Paris accords to mitigate climate change.

At the same time, each president chose not to rock the boat economically, achieving substantial economic growth through mainstream economic policies.

And each has been followed by a brutal right-wing backlash.

The similarities go deeper. Lula and Obama each served two terms, and each was succeeded in his own party by a female presidential candidate, further opening the path to inclusion. Each woman appeared more mainstream and cautious than her predecessor, while remaining committed to a modestly progressive agenda.

What happened? Former Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff won elections in 2010 and 2014, but before she could complete her second term, right-wing forces impeached her, replacing her with then-vice president Michel Temer, a conservative. While technically legal, the impeachment process saw Rousseff ousted for minor transgressions by famously corrupt male politicians.

In 2016, Trump defeated former US secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton in elections that were legal, but marred by charges of Russian interference, hacking of e-mail accounts, politically timed FBI revelations and incitements to violence. Trump also lost the popular vote.

Despite their questionable pathways to the presidency, Trump and Temer have each moved, from the moments they assumed office, to dismantle inclusionary economic policies and social programs implemented by their predecessors.

They have enacted draconian policy shifts to a degree few would have imagined possible in either country, including gutting entire programs in education, family support, housing, university access and environmental protection.

To carry out this slashing of programs promoting equality and inclusion, Trump and Temer each appointed nearly all-wealthy, all-male and all-white Cabinets.

The electoral campaign in Brazil has deepened the similarities between Brazilian and US politics. Bolsonaro speaks in fiercely derogatory ways about women, racial minorities, immigrants and LGBTQ people. Like Trump, Bolsonaro favors encouraging police to shoot first and ask later and praises authoritarian rulers, in Brazil’s case the generals who ruled from 1964 to 1985.

Many Brazilians rightly fear that a Bolsonaro victory could bring the military back into politics , along with repression and torture of dissidents.

In 2016, when Bolsonaro cast his vote in favor of the impeachment of Rousseff, he did so in honor of Carlos Brilhante Ustra, the most feared torturer of the dictatorship.

In an interview in August on TV Globo, Brazil’s premier TV network, Bolsonaro ignored requests from the interviewers for policy proposals, but insisted at length on the dangers of discussing gender and sexuality in schools.

Making patently false claims about textbooks and classroom instruction, he proclaimed in the prominent national interview that “no father would want to come home and find his son playing with dolls because his teacher had suggested it.”

Like Trump, Bolsonaro follows the demagogues’ playbook and makes a sham out of previously respected norms, signaling his contempt for media and institutions that oppose him.

What do these striking similarities portend for democratic politics?

After watching two years of marches, social media campaigns and electoral initiatives begin to take shape in the US, I traveled to southern Brazil in August. In a region with a long history of political activism in social movements and political parties, I found people feeling alternately enraged and powerless.

This felt familiar. First, media spectacle has replaced politics: What will Bolsonaro or Trump say or do next? The spectacle intensified in Brazil when Bolsonaro was stabbed at a political rally, undergoing major surgery and continuing his campaign from a hospital bed, to growing popularity.

Brazilian elections also follow on corruption scandals that rocked politicians and businesspeople across the political spectrum, including key figures in the Lula, Dilma and Temer governments.

Second, citizens respond to unfolding political events with a combination of surprise, outrage and powerlessness. In Brazil and the US, majorities voted repeatedly for progressive democratic politics, with government acting to lessen inequality and widen opportunities.

These voters, many of them young and new to electoral politics, believed, with the elections of Lula and Obama, that a corner had been turned. Both countries saw a new, if cautious, politics of rights and political participation, the continuation of political movements and social changes that began in the mid-20th century.

In conversation with Brazilians, I realized that the widespread outrage at the questionable impeachment of Rousseff, widely characterized as a coup, mirrors the mixture of rage and powerlessness with which many in the US view the Republican outmaneuvering of Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court and the subsequent appointment of Brett Kavanaugh. The confirmation of a conservative justice by the Republicans in Congress, like the impeachment of Rousseff in Brazil, will change policies that affect millions of people.

The US Senate’s refusal to vote on Garland, like the Brazilian Congress’ impeachment of Rousseff, was legal in procedure, but transgressed key democratic norms. The two rounds of Kavanaugh hearings, from discussion of the candidate’s political and judicial past to examination of charges of sexual assault, have only deepened widespread feelings of powerlessness in the face of manipulated legality.

In the US, people rarely look outside their own country to explain politics. When they do, it is generally eastward, to rising populisms in Europe that appear to pivot around immigration.

I discovered that the same goes for Brazilians. While they are well aware of the characteristics of Trump and his presidency, few look to the US to understand the dynamics of their country’s political crisis.

However, in August as I spoke with Brazilians, I found myself repeatedly ticking off the many similarities between the two countries’ trajectories and wondering: Are there common forces that produced such similar results in two such different democracies, north and south?

The Americas story seems to be this: Male black or working-class presidents — and the white female presidents or presidential candidates who followed them — drew together coalitions to carry forward the civil rights struggles of the past for decent economic lives and cultural inclusion.

They proceeded with great caution, to the chagrin of some of their supporters, and did not attempt to increase taxes, redistribute wealth, question globalization, or adjust markets to promote wellbeing.

Nevertheless, these coalitions for change elicited fierce and brutal backlashes that have redistributed wealth upward and target, especially, women, people of color, LGBTQ people and the poor.

Jeffrey Rubin is a professor of history at Boston University


Brazilian real, stocks leap after Bolsonaro takes commanding lead

October 8, 2018

Economic Optimism sweeps through Brazil on news corruption-fighter Jair Bolsonaro has the lead in the presidential polls

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By Pan Kwan Yuk in New York

Call it the Bolsonaro bump. The Brazilian real is rallying hard on Monday, jumping by the most in four months after far-right presidential candidate and market favourite Jair Bolsonaro took a commanding lead in Sunday’s first round votes. The currency shot up as much as 3.3 per cent — the most since June — to hit a two-month high of R$3.7122.

The Bovespa stock index leapt more than 6 per cent within minutes of opening trade to a seven-and-a-half month high of 87,333 on Monday. The moves buck the wider sell-off in emerging market currencies and stocks on Monday. Mr Bolsonaro won Sunday’s first round of elections with 46 per cent of votes compared with 29 per cent for his main rival, Fernando Haddad of the leftist Workers’ party (PT).

Mr Bolsonaro’s disparaging remarks about gays and blacks and emphasis on security and conservative values have prompted some to call him a “Tropical Trump”. Nonetheless investors have latched on to the populist, seeing him as their best chance for avoiding a return to the PT party, whose economic policies over the past decade have been blamed for pushing the country into its worst recession on record.

Mr Bolsonaro’s choice of Paulo Guedes, a Chicago-trained financier, as his economic adviser has also helped earn him support from the markets. “Bolsonaro’s economic platform is very market friendly — his manifesto includes pension reform, full independence for the central bank, privatisations and a reduction in the size of the state,” said William Jackson, chief emerging markets economist at Capital Economics.

“The PT platform, in contrast, pledged to suspend privatisation, roll back labour reform and change the central bank’s mandate to include targeting employment.” Including today’s gains, the real has rallied more than 11 per cent since mid-September.

Analysts said that while Brazilian assets could continue to bounce, especially Mr Bolsonaro if wins the second round on October 28, the key issue for investors is whether the new president has the political will and support to push through desperately needed fiscal reforms.

“Although markets could rally in the short term as the leftwing victory tail risk dissipates, the sustainability of the rally is highly dependent upon the likelihood of meaningful fiscal reform next year, and uncertainties remain on that front,” said Joao Pedro Ribeiro, an analyst at Nomura.

The view was echoed by Mr Jackson from Capital Economics, who said his focus in the coming weeks will be on Mr Bolsonaro’s ability to build a working coalition in Congress. “As we’ve argued before, the bar for major reforms to tackle the large fiscal deficit is high,” he said.

“It’s not clear that the support Bolsonaro is building extends to painful measures to cut spending. And some of the more difficult changes, such as to pension provision, will require a highly unstable coalition of at least 11 parties to change the constitution. As these hurdles become more apparent, the Bolsonaro boost may start to falter.”

Brazil Election: Runoff for Jair Bolsonaro and Fernando Haddad

October 8, 2018

Brazil’s presidential election will be decided in a run-off between right-winger Jair Bolsonaro and leftist Fernando Haddad, the president of the country’s top electoral court said on Sunday.

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Jair Bolsonaro (left) and Fernando Haddad

Bolsonaro obtained 46.7 percent of the votes in Sunday’s first-round vote, and Haddad got 28.37 percent. The run-off between the two top vote-getters is required when no candidate wins a majority. The vote will be held on Oct. 28.


Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

Brazil votes for new president, far-right Bolsonaro in lead — “He stands up against corruption and crime”

October 7, 2018

Brazilians head to the polls Sunday to elect a new president, with a far-right politician promising an iron-fisted crackdown on crime, Jair Bolsonaro, the firm favorite going into the first round.

Surveys suggest the 63-year-old former paratrooper, who wants to cut spiralling debt through sweeping privatizations and embrace the United States and Israel, could count on more than one in three voters in the vast Latin American nation.

But at least as many in the 147-million-strong electorate reject the veteran federal lawmaker, who is known for repeated offensive comments against women, gays and the poor, and for lauding the military dictatorship Brazil shucked off just three decades ago.

Demonstrators opposed to Brazil's former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva have their picture taken with lawmaker Jair Bolsonaro, the main right-wing candidate for the October presidential election, during a protest in Brasilia, Brazil.Demonstrators opposed to Brazil’s former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva have their picture taken with lawmaker Jair Bolsonaro, the main right-wing candidate for the October presidential election, during a protest in Brasilia, Brazil.

(AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

If Bolsonaro gets more than 50 percent of the vote to lead the field of 13 candidates, he will win the presidency outright. Otherwise, a run-off will be held on October 28.

Analysts say a first-round victory for Bolsonaro is possible — but unlikely.

The last surveys released late Saturday credited Bolsonaro with 36 percent against 22 percent for his nearest rival, leftist former Sao Paulo mayor Fernando Haddad.

With blank and invalid votes stripped out, Bolsonaro could pocket 40-41 percent of the vote to 25 percent for Haddad, polling firms Ibope and Datafolha said.

© AFP | Brazilian election authorities prepare electronic ballots in Rio de Janeiro on the eve of Sunday’s vote

A run-off was seen as too close to call, given the plus-or-minus two-point margin of error, though Bolsonaro was seen with a small edge: 45 percent, to 41-43 percent for Haddad.

– Voting marked by ‘fear, anger’ –

Haddad, 55, has picked up support that still exists for ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the Workers Party icon jailed for corruption who was declared ineligible from making a comeback because of a failed appeal.

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Lula da Silva

While Brazil lived its economic heyday during Lula’s 2003-2010 presidency, it was also plunged into its worst-ever recession under Lula’s chosen successor, Dilma Rousseff, who was impeached and booted from office in 2016 for financial wrongdoing.

Many blame the Workers Party for the country’s current economic malaise.

The result is one of the most polarized elections Brazil has seen. Voter rejection of the two leading candidates is bigger than their polled support.

Voters stuck between the far right and the left are likely to make their choice “more from fear or from anger than from conviction,” said Geraldo Monteiro, a political analyst at Rio de Janeiro State University.

The run-off round could be “even more radical, maybe with violence,” he warned.

The winner will rule the world’s eighth biggest economy: a nation with 210 million inhabitants and abundant natural resources whose top trading partner is China.

Should Bolsonaro become president, he will have to form legislative alliances.

His ultraconservative Social Liberal Party has just eight deputies in the outgoing, 513-seat lower house of congress.

After Sunday’s general election, in which new federal and state legislatures will also be chosen, it might at best pick up only a handful of seats.

But Bolsonaro, a Catholic, is close to the evangelical church lobby that counts many lawmakers. Deputies linked to Brazil’s powerful agro-business lobby are also siding with him.

– A ‘clean’ candidate –

Bolsonaro’s profile and anti-crime agenda got an unintended boost a month ago when the far-right candidate was stabbed by a lone assailant who police said had political motives.

Forced off the campaign trail for weeks, Bolsonaro intensified his deft use of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to reach switched-on Brazilians.

In the week before the election, his poll figures soared, while Haddad’s stalled.

Even those opposed to Bolsonaro admit that he is a “clean” candidate, unsullied by corruption scandals that have mired many other politicians.

At a last pro-Bolsonaro rally in the capital Brasilia, supporters said they saw him as a savior.

“Bolsonaro is the best for the country today — he is the hope of a better country. If we don’t have Bolsonaro, we will become a Venezuela,” said one demonstrating government worker, Cacio de Oliveira.

The current president, Rousseff’s center-right former deputy Michel Temer, is not contesting Sunday’s election.

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Marcela Temer ao lado do marido na posse de Dilma Rousseff e Michel Temer, em 2015. Fonte: O Globo

He will leave office at the end of the year as a deeply unpopular figure in a country suffering with 13 million unemployed, climbing public debt and inflation, and record violence.

Voting on Sunday was to start at 8:00 am (1100 GMT) and end at 5:00 pm (2000 GMT), with initial results expected a couple of hours later.


See also:

The understandable rise of Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro

Russian cyberattack on international chemical weapons watchdog revealed in Dutch counter-intelligence operation

October 4, 2018

Dutch intelligence thwarted a Russian cyberattack targeting the global chemical weapons watchdog in April and expelled four Russian agents, the government said Thursday.

The Russians set up a car full of electronic equipment in the car park of a hotel next to the Organization for the Prohibition for Chemical Weapons in The Hague in a bid to hack its computer system, it said.

“The Dutch government finds the involvement of these intelligence operatives extremely worrisome,” Dutch Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld told a news conference.

Dutch Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld, left, said that the involvement of Russian intelligence operatives was extremely worrisome. (AFP)

“Normally we don’t reveal this type of counter-intelligence operation.”

The Netherlands publicly identified the alleged Russian agents and said the operation was carried out by Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency, Dutch officials said.

Britain helped the Netherlands with the operation, they added.

A laptop belonging to one of the four was linked to Brazil, Switzerland and Malaysia. The activities in Malaysia were related to the investigation into the 2014 shooting down of flight MH17 over Ukraine, Bijleveld added.



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Brazil: Far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro wins female support despite sexist remarks

October 4, 2018

Luzia Amaral took a long hard look at Brazil’s presidential candidates, and eventually settled on far-right Jair Bolsonaro, viewing him as the only option to prevent the return of the leftist Workers Party (PT) in this weekend’s vote.

Amaral is part of a growing number of women who opinion polls show have recently warmed to Bolsonaro, a divisive candidate whose comments belittling rape and defending the gender pay gap have long alienated many female voters.

If the trend continues, some of the women who previously balked at the former army captain could help propel him to the presidency, and possibly a first-round victory on Sunday, pollsters and analysts say.

© Nelson Almeida, AFP | Jair Bolsonaro’s divisive comments on gender and gay rights have not affected his female voter base ahead of the Oct. 7 elections

That prospect cheers investors who fear a return of the PT’s state-run policies, but terrifies Bolsonaro’s critics, who say his views echo those of U.S. President Donald Trump or even hardline Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

Amaral said she was not thrilled by Bolsonaro’s pledge to loosen gun laws and disliked his homophobic statements, but ultimately she was willing to overlook those if he was able to beat PT candidate Fernando Haddad.

“In truth, my vote is a protest vote,” said Amaral, a 64-year-old retired civil servant in downtown Rio de Janeiro. “Right now, among the current crop of candidates, none of them would be my choice to govern the country.”

After ruling Brazil for 13 of the last 15 years, the PT is blamed by many for a crippling recession, rising violence and voracious corruption.

An Ibope poll released on Wednesday night showed Bolsonaro with a strong first-round lead over second-placed Haddad.

That survey and others indicate that a run-off vote between the two, which would take place on Oct. 28 if nobody clinches a majority on Sunday, would be close.

The signs that Bolsonaro is gaining momentum led Brazil’s stock index up to a near five-month high and its currency to its strongest level in almost two months on

“(The polls are) bringing euphoria to the market … which is already beginning to price in the possibility of a (Bolsonaro) victory in the first round,” said currency
strategist Fernanda Consorte from bank Ourinvest.

Rising female support

Bolsonaro’s support among women has risen some 6 percentage points in the last week alone, the polls suggest.

That is all the more surprising given it comes just days after his candidacy provoked the largest female-led street demonstrations Brazil has seen in decades.

Far from slowing Bolsonaro, a federal congressman who was hospitalized for much of September after being stabbed in an assassination attempt, the protests appear to have helped him, particularly among some women who viewed the young, progressive protesters as PT supporters.

Luzinete Silva, a 55-year-old lawyer in Rio who recently decided to vote for Bolsonaro, said the women who participated in the marches were “misinformed.”

“I don’t think those women are well-educated and they’re not looking at and reading (Bolsonaro’s) proposals and analyzing what’s going on in the whole country,” she said.

Nobody has won the presidency in Brazil in the first round since 1998.

But sudden last-minute waves of anti-PT sentiment have impacted recent local elections, such as Joao Doria’s landslide first-round victory over Haddad to become mayor of Sao Paulo in 2016.

Bolsonaro’s chances of winning on Sunday would be boosted if there is high abstention, and if many voters cast blank or spoiled ballots, said Leonardo Barreto, head of Brasilia-based political consultancy Factual.

“If the trends detected by Ibope and Datafolha this week continue with further growth for Bolsonaro, we could have a final wave of support for him,” said Barreto.


Tesco Bank fined £16.4m by FCA over cyber attack — Will Facebook be next?

October 1, 2018

Weak defences left customers vulnerable to ‘largely avoidable’ attack in 2016

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© PA

By Caroline Binham and Martin Arnold in London

The cyber heist that stole £2.26m from customers of Tesco’s banking arm two years ago was “largely avoidable”, the UK financial watchdog said on Monday as it fined the lender £16.4m for repeated failings exposed by the incident.

Listing a catalogue of errors, including warnings that were ignored, mistakes in the code written to fix the problem and a failure to follow correct procedure, the Financial Conduct Authority imposed its first fine on a bank because of a cyber attack.

It was almost a day after the start of the cyber attack before Tesco Bank’s “fraud strategy team” took any action to address a hole in the lender’s security, despite many calls and tweets from worried customers and several internal emails raising the alarm.

Even then, it took another 24 hours before the vulnerability was fixed. Describing how “a series of errors” meant the bank wasted 21 hours before even starting to respond to the attack, the FCA said: “In the meantime, nothing had been done to stop the attack, the fraudulent transactions multiplied, calls from customers mounted and the attack continued.” However, the regulator more than halved the draft penalty of £33.6m that Tesco Bank was initially facing because it agreed to settle, co-operated fully and had already compensated customers.

The attack was the subject of a very specific warning that Tesco Bank did not properly address until after the attack started Mark Steward, enforcement director of FCA The eventual £16.4m fine is the first time the FCA has penalised a company for an online fraud and reflects increased scrutiny of banks for IT failures and cyber attacks. Last month, millions of customers were locked out of their online accounts after both Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland’s NatWest suffered IT outages.

Mark Steward, the FCA’s enforcement director, said the fine showed that it had “no tolerance for banks that fail to protect customers from foreseeable risks”. “In this case, the attack was the subject of a very specific warning that Tesco Bank did not properly address until after the attack started,” said Mr Steward. “This was too little, too late. Customers should not have been exposed to the risk at all”.

The FCA said 8,261 personal current accounts at Tesco Bank were affected by the attack — described by regulators at the time as “ unprecedented” — but because the bank delayed most of the fraudulent transactions, only 34 accounts ended up being debited money*.

The bank has insisted that no customer data were lost and none of its systems were breached in the “highly sophisticated attack”. Gerry Mallon, the bank’s chief executive, said: “We are very sorry for the impact that this fraud attack had on our customers.

We have significantly enhanced our security measures to ensure that our customers’ accounts have the highest levels of protection.” The FCA said Tesco Bank “inadvertently issued debit cards with sequential PAN numbers” — the long numbers across the front of debit cards — which made it easier for hackers to find the next number in the sequence.

The bank also configured its transaction authorisation system so that it only checked if the debit card expiry date was in the future rather than checking for an exact date. £2.26m Amount stolen from customer accounts at Tesco Bank during the cyber heist A year before the attack, Visa had warned its members, including Tesco Bank, about the type of fraud that it subsequently suffered happening in Brazil and the US.

But Tesco Bank only put a block on such transactions on its credit cards, not its debit cards. When the attack — mainly in the form of fraudulent Brazilian point of sale transactions — started at 2am on Saturday November 5 2016, it took two hours before Tesco Bank started sending automated messages to customers asking them to call its fraud hotline.

Because the financial crime operations team emailed the fraud strategy team instead of calling them as per the correct procedure at weekends, their emails were ignored. When the fraud strategy team was finally alerted, a mistake in the code they wrote to fix the security flaw — using the euro currency code instead of the Brazil country code — meant tens of thousands more fraudulent transactions happened.

Several hours later, the bank brought in external fraud experts who spotted a flaw in the way Tesco Bank’s authorisation system was configured, which had allowed fraudulent transactions to escape detection.

This was blocked at 3:35am on Monday, November 7 2016.

*This post has been amended to correct the final tally.


Sex, violence and the rise of populism — #MeToo and Women On Top, Gaining Power? Or Are Men in Revolt?

October 1, 2018

The Kavanaugh hearing in the US has shown that men fear a loss of power and status

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The most popular explanations for the rise of populism have focused on inequality and race. But the storm surrounding the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court points to a third factor: male rage.

Traditional gender roles are under challenge, leading many men to fear a loss of power and status. That fear is visible in the misogynistic tone of populist movements in the US, Brazil, the Philippines, Italy and elsewhere.

The male backlash finds expression not just in relatively civilised debates about women in the workplace or gender roles at home. As the Kavanaugh hearings highlighted, it quickly moves on to the rawest and most emotive topic of all — sexual violence.

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Matteo Salvini

Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines, and Jair Bolsonaro, the frontrunner in this month’s Brazilian presidential election, have incorporated gibes about rape into their political rhetoric. Matteo Salvini, the dominant figure in the Italian government, has used sexual slurs to demean female politicians.

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Mr Bolsonaro once claimed that Maria do Rosário, a Brazilian politician, was “not worth raping; she is very ugly”. More than 3m women have joined an online group to oppose his surging candidacy, with the hashtag #nothim. With the first round of voting taking place on October 7, hundreds of thousands of women have just demonstrated against Mr Bolsonaro on the streets of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

Mr Duterte once joked about the gang rape and murder of an Australian missionary, suggesting that, because he was mayor of the town it took place in, he should have been allowed to go first. (US president Donald Trump has since said that he has a “great relationship” with the Filipino leader.)

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Rodrigo Duterte

Mr Salvini, Italy’s deputy prime minister and a Trump admirer, has also taunted female politicians. In 2016, at a political rally, he pointed to a sex doll on the stage and claimed that it was a “double” of Laura Boldrini, who was then president of Italy’s Chamber of Deputies.

In a recent interview with Politico, Ms Boldrini said that she has received numerous rape and death threats in recent years, adding that Italy’s populists had targeted her because “I was a woman and I was advocating for refugees, for human rights, for women’s rights”.

As Ms Boldrini suggests, the use of demeaning misogynistic rhetoric looks like a direct response to the rise of powerful female politicians. It is suggestive that Mr Bolsonaro has come to prominence in the immediate aftermath of the presidency of Dilma Rousseff, the first woman to lead Brazil. And Mr Trump, of course, was running against Hillary Clinton, who would have been the first female US president.

By the debased standards of Messrs Duterte, Salvini and Bolsonaro, Mr Trump’s misogynistic language was relatively restrained.

But it may have served a similar political purpose — sending a message to angry male voters that he was on their side. Mainstream commentators, including prominent Republicans, assumed that Mr Trump’s remark about grabbing women “by the pussy” would hurt him in the presidential race.

But some men probably quietly relished his taboo-busting macho talk. In the event 53 per cent of American men (and 62 per cent of white men) voted for Mr Trump. Mr Trump’s period in office has coincided with the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment — which has ended the careers of some prominent men in Hollywood, the media, business and politics.

But the rise of #MeToo may also have stoked the male reaction that feeds populism. Senator Lindsey Graham, one of Mr Kavanaugh’s most vociferous supporters, certainly embraced the language of victimhood when he said during the judge’s confirmation hearing: “I’m a single white man from South Carolina and I’m told I should shut up. But I will not shut up, if that’s OK.”

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Senator Lindsey Graham

Many Democrats are now taking some comfort from the thought that even if Mr Kavanaugh is confirmed, the controversy will backfire on the Republicans in the midterm elections. A recent poll suggested that white women now tilt towards the Democrats by a margin of 12 points.

But some Republicans believe that the Kavanaugh hearings could work for them, by mobilising male voters. James Robbins, a former official in the George W Bush administration, warned men that if the “Democrats win on Kavanaugh . . . any man could find himself facing unprovable accusations automatically taken as fact.”

Disquiet about the implications of #MeToo has also surfaced in bastions of liberal America. In recent weeks, both Harper’s and the New York Review of Books have published anguished articles by men who lost their careers after multiple accusations of maltreatment of women.

Ian Buruma, the editor of the New York Review, lost his job in the subsequent furore. These controversies inside literary America are insignificant compared with the drama of the Kavanaugh hearings — or the macho brutality of politics in Italy or the Philippines. But they demonstrate the polarising power of gender debates in politics and society.

And if there is anything that populism thrives on, it is anger and polarisation.

Brazilian women lead mass protests against Bolsonaro

September 30, 2018

Demonstration against far-right presidential candidate comes ahead of October election
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By Andres Schipani and Joe Leahy in São Paulo 

Brazilian women led one of the biggest protests yet against the country`s far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, even as the former army captain said he would not “passively” accept any defeat in next month’s election.

Saturday’s protests, which reportedly spread through 114 cities throughout Brazil and others overseas including New York, London and Sydney, were in repudiation of a candidate known for disparaging women, blacks and gays and who yearns for Brazil`s former military dictatorship.

“He’s a person who is homophobic, a person who is prejudiced . . . he is a person who supports violence and dictatorship,” said Maiana Viana, a chef who was at the protest with her mother, who lived through the former dictatorship.

The election, which is turning into a contest between populists from the far left and right, follows corruption scandals that have devastated much of the traditional political class and left the country in a deep recession.

Investors are hoping the next president will be able to implement tough fiscal reforms to revive Latin America`s largest economy but many analysts doubt the leading candidates have the will or ability to do so.

The first round of the election is next Sunday followed by a second round on October 28.

Mr Bolsonaro, a paratrooper-turned-congressman, is leading in the latest Datafolha poll with 28 per cent support against 22 per cent for his nearest rival Fernando Haddad of the disgraced leftist Workers` Party, or PT. The poll is published by the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper.

In spite of the PT’s deep involvement in graft — its founder, former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is in jail for corruption — support for Mr Haddad has been growing rapidly. Lower income earners welcome the PT’s track record on social welfare programmes.

For his part Mr Bolsonaro, who left hospital on Saturday after being knifed during September campaigning, has built a strong base among wealthier voters for championing tougher action against crime and “traditional” family values.

However, his remarks on women — he once told a PT legislator she did not “deserve” to be raped — led women critics to launch an online group under the hashtag @elenão, or @nothim, that has nearly 3m members.

That group hit the streets on Saturday with protests reaching 150,000 people in São Paulo and 200,000 in Rio de Janeiro, according to estimates by the Valor Economico newspaper.

In São Paulo, protesters gathered in a square to hear speeches and drink beer with participating politicians, including presidential candidate Marina Silva, the only woman in the leadership contest.

Protesters included a strong gay and lesbian contingent. Mr Bolsonaro has frequently made negative remarks about homosexuality, once saying he would rather his son die than turn out to be gay.

“He has been growing in his hate and in his efforts to undermine everything we have achieved, principally our democracy,” said Flavia, another protester in São Paulo, who did not give her surname.

Mr Bolsonaro denies he is chauvinist and his supporters dismiss his more outrageous statements on gays and blacks as being made in jest or in the heat of the moment.

In interviews in hospital and on Saturday during his flight home, Mr Bolsonaro did not comment on the protests but warned he would not accept any result that was not a victory for him.

He said he suspected Brazil`s electronic voting system was subject to possible fraud, despite having won seats in seven congressional elections.

He said the strength of street rallies in his favour “were a clear signal that the people are on our side, and the way that this is being demonstrated, there`s no way we can passively accept the fraud or possible fraud [in the event of a victory] for the other side”.

Malu Gatto a Brazilian political scientist with the University of Zurich, said women in Brazilian politics typically felt under-represented.

Women make up only about 10 per cent of congress and have never accounted for more than 18 per cent of the ministers of any government.

While presidential candidates were beginning to appreciate the importance of women`s votes, the presence of Mr Bolsonaro had increased the role of gender in this election.

“The main objective for a lot of women is preventing Bolsonaro from winning rather than perhaps even electing the person they think would be the better president or the one that would most closely match their ideological preferences,” said Ms Gatto.

Brazilian women lead nationwide protests against far-right candidate

September 30, 2018

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Brazil’s major cities on Saturday in women-led protests against far-right presidential front-runner Jair Bolsonaro, who flew home after weeks in hospital recovering from a near-fatal stab wound.

Image result for women against Jair Bolsonaro, brazil, photos

Women take part in a demonstartion against Brazilian right-wing presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, called by a social media campaign under the hashtag #EleNao (Not Him), in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on September 29, 2018. AFP photo

Angered by Bolsonaro’s history of making offensive comments, which includes belittling rape and calling the gender pay gap justified, female protesters used the hash tag #EleNao, or #NotHim, to drum up support for a series of international protests against the former army captain.

Flag-waving protesters flocked to downtown Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo on Saturday afternoon, pouring out of subway trains and into the streets while chanting in unison against a divisive candidate who has led polls for months ahead of the Oct. 7 election, the most polarizing in a generation.

Later, as night fell, television images showed protesters starting small fires and banging drums in the center of Rio.

“I could never be friends with someone who supports a person (like Bolsonaro), who is racist, homophobic and a misogynist,” said Tassia Casseli, who was at the Sao Paulo march.

Bolsonaro nearly died from a stab wound earlier this month and has been confined to Sao Paulo’s Albert Einstein hospital ever since. He was discharged on Saturday morning, and flew to Rio, where he has served as a federal congressman for nearly three decades, in the afternoon.

In a telling sign of the divisive nature of the election, videos uploaded to social media from Bolsonaro’s commercial flight back to Rio showed some of his fellow passengers clapping and chanting “Legend” when he boarded, while others booed.


“Finally back home, with my family in the warmth of our home. There is no better feeling! Thank you for all the expressions of affection that I saw on the way back and all over Brazil,” Bolsonaro wrote on Twitter. “A big hug to everyone!”

A former army officer who has voiced admiration for Brazil’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship, Bolsonaro has won over many with his hard-line stance on crime, unvarnished rhetoric, and a career that has been largely free of corruption accusations.

Yet he has also repelled many others with comments widely considered sexist, misogynist, and homophobic.

Saturday also saw rival rallies in support of the right-winger across the country.

“I never heard him say anything wrong about women,” said Alessandra Sampaio, 39, at a pro-Bolsonaro rally in Rio. “He’s against rape, drugs and in favor of the family. I have two daughters and want the best for them.”

Bolsonaro stirred fresh controversy on Friday night, when he said that he would not accept the result of next month’s election if he loses, adding that he could not “speak for the armed forces commanders.”

Bolsonaro’s relative lack of support among women could spell trouble for a candidate who has become investors’ favorite after embracing free-market policies on the campaign trail.

His biggest rival and likely opponent in an expected Oct. 28 runoff is leftist candidate and former Sao Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad.

Haddad is running for the Workers Party, whose jailed founder, former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, was barred by a corruption conviction. Haddad has surged in recent polls with support from the working class and voters who cannot stomach Bolsonaro.

According to a recent survey by pollster Ibope, 18 percent of women plan to vote for Bolsonaro in the Oct. 7 first round, versus 36 percent of men. In an Oct. 28 second round scenario, among those who expressed a preference, women favored Haddad over Bolsonaro by 47 to 30 percent. Among men 47 percent favored Bolsonaro versus 37 percent for Haddad.

Reporting by Gram Slattery; Additional reporting by Pilar Olivares in Rio de Janeiro; Editing by Alistair Bell and Marguerita Choy