23:55 GMT03 December 2020
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    Right-wing candidate Jair Bolsonaro has been elected President of Brazil. Electoral authorities confirmed that Bolsonaro has won 55.7% of the votes in Sunday's second-round poll. Sputnik discussed Brazil’s presidential election with Mauricio Santoro, an international relations professor at Rio de Janeiro’s State University.

    Sputnik: What changes in Brazil's foreign policy should be expected after Bolsonaro's win in the election?

    Mauricio Santoro: Bolsonaro spoke just a few remarks about the foreign policy but we can expect that he's going to be closer to the United States and especially to Donald Trump than the current administration. He probably will have a harsher line towards Venezuela because he thinks that Venezuela is a very big problem for Brazil's regional security, otherwise we don't really know what he's going to do. For example, he has been criticizing China and Chinese investment in Brazil but many people believe that he's going to change this line of discourse because China is Brazil's biggest trade partner and the big economic corporations are probably going to put pressure over him because of that. But Bolsonaro's passion is really not the economy or economic policies; it's more about public security, much more about the role of the police and the military in Brazilian daily life and I think that's going to be the biggest change.

    READ MORE: Brazil's President-Elect Bolsonaro Vows to Downsize Federal Government

    Sputnik: Lack of security has become the central issue in this election; more than 60,000 people were killed in Brazil last year. Mr. Bolsonaro pledged to address this issue by loosening public gun laws, militarizing the police and allowing officers greater freedom to kill. In your opinion, do you think this approach will solve the problem?

    Mauricio Santoro: No, I think it's just going to make things worse in Brazil, and we can look at the Philippines and we can see what's happening with President Rodrigo Duterte, who actually looks a lot like Bolsonaro; there's some kind of ideological [similarity]. You can look at Duterte in the Philippines to see what's going to happen in Brazil, but the difference here is that many people believe the Supreme Court and the judiciary, they're going to try to break some of the proposals of Bolsonaro, especially relating to what the police officers can or cannot do.

    Sputnik: In your opinion, why are socialist policies failing in Brazil?

    Mauricio Santoro: Mostly because our left-wing administration of President Dilma Rousseff had a very bad economic policy, because of the wrong response to the global financial crisis and efforts to bring Brazil out of this difficult situation that it is in now, but it is mostly the rejection of corruption, because this economic crisis happened at the same time as the big corruption scandals were being exposed by the investigations of the 'Car Wash Operation', so many people blame the corruption for the economic crisis. I believe the situation is more complex than that, but for the majority of Brazilians we're in the middle of this very strong recession because of the corruption of the politicians, especially the wrong things that the Workers Party did, that the left did, and this became a very important narrative in the Brazilian election. It's one of the reasons why so many former voters of the left are turning to the far-right in these elections because they feel that they have betrayed by their leaders and it is a powerful feeling.

    READ MORE: Jair Bolsonaro Wins Brazil Presidential Race — Early Results

    Sputnik: Some financial experts say that the Brazilian economy would benefit from Bolsonaro's win; why are investors willing to support this candidate even though he admitted that he knows very little about economics?

    Mauricio Santoro: Bolsonaro is saying that he doesn't understand economics but he's going to put the management of the economy in the hands of conservative economists, especially people from the University of Chicago with a neoliberal approach to economics, and this is music to Brazilian and foreign investors here. People like the way he criticizes the left, the way he says he's going to reform the labour laws, so he's basically using upper market discourse to win the confidence of investors and it is working, although there are also some people in the Brazilian business community who don't have much confidence in Bolsonaro and who think that he's basically saying what business leaders want to hear but that he doesn't have a strong commitment to reform. This is something that we should look at, because he has made very contradictory comments about the economy and it's difficult really to know what's going to be his economic policy once he's in power.

    Sputnik: Former US Ambassador to Brazil Anthony Harrington called Brazilian elections a black hole of US diplomacy; how could this change following Mr. Bolsonaro's win?

    Mauricio Santoro: I think that nowadays the United States is the country that has the biggest expectations about Bolsonaro because there's one thing that's coherent in his views: his love of the United States. He speaks about the US with great admiration, he says that it's the model that Brazil should follow, and the Americans are quite excited with that, because it is going to be a very unusual situation to have a Latin American country allied with Trump in the middle of this very strong diplomatic conflict concerning immigration and concerning trade negotiations. So this is going to be a big bet for the US and they're willing (to support) this victory of Bolsonaro in Brazil.

    The views and opinions expressed by the contributors do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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