Amid fake news scandals, Jair Bolsonaro is elected president of Brazil
With nearly 95 percent of votes counted, Jair Bolsonaro, of the Social Liberal Party (PSL), was elected president of Brazil after a highly polarized election. The inauguration will take place on Jan. 1 in Brasília.
The far-right politician defeated the Workers’ Party (PT) presidential hopeful, Fernando Haddad, with a campaign based on hate speech and fake news spread over WhatsApp, a highly popular messaging app in Brazil.
Jair Bolsonaro is a retired army captain who has been a congressman for 27 years. Before running for president, he was serving in the Chamber of Deputies, Brazil’s lower house, for the seventh term – all of them as a member of the conservative Progressive Party (PP). He left the party and joined the PSL in 2018.
Bolsonaro was born on March 21st, 1955 in the city of Campinas, São Paulo, the son of Perci Geraldo Bolsonaro and Olinda Bonturi, to a family of Italian descent. He studied at the Agulhas Negras Military Academy Preparatory School in Resende, Rio de Janeiro, in 1977. Six years later, he graduated in Army Physical Training. He also took military parachuting classes in Rio de Janeiro.
The far-right politician got married three times. Between 1993 and 2001, he was married to councilwoman Rogéria Nantes Nunes, with whom he had three children: Eduardo Bolsonaro, who was reelected a federal congressman this year, Flávio Bolsonaro, who was elected senator on Oct. 7, and Carlos Bolsonaro, a Rio de Janeiro councilman. After his separation, he married Ana Cristina Vale, with whom he had another son, 20-year-old Renan Bolsonaro. In 2013, he married Michelle de Paula Firmo Reinaldo, with whom he has a daughter.
In his seven terms as a member of Congress, only two of the bills proposed by him were passed: one that exempted technology products from a tax called IPI, and a bill to authorize the use of a so-called “cancer pill,” which was later barred by the Supreme Court.
The elected president’s running mate and now elected vice president is General Hamilton Mourão.
When he voted to impeach ex-president Dilma Rousseff, the then member of Congress paid a tribute to colonel Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra, calling him “Dilma Rousseff’s nightmare.” The colonel was in charge of torture sessions against Rousseff during the military rule in the country, when she fought against the regime.
Since the beginning of the election process, Bolsonaro was targeted by the #EleNão (“Not Him”) campaign, which mobilized millions of people across the country.
The retired military man is infamously known for his controversial remarks in defense of the army – in a country that lived a military dictatorship between 1964 and 1985 – and looser gun-control laws, as well as his offensive, biased statements about black people, women, and LGBT people.
In the final stretch of the runoff vote, an investigative news story published by newspaper Folha de S. Paulo exposed that pro-Bolsonaro companies were paying for illegal bulk messaging services against the Workers’ Party (PT) on the highly popular messaging app WhatsApp, directly benefiting Bolsonaro.
The PT filed a petition for the country’s electoral court to investigate whether Bolsonaro’s campaign committed abuse of economic power and undue use of means of communication. If he is convicted, Bolsonaro could be removed from office.