Jair Bolsonaro Is Far Right, Hugo Chavez Was Socialist


This is a useful little linguistic trick, isn’t it? Someone you don’t like is a far right populist. Someone you do like is a socialist bringing liberation to the masses. In terms of actual policies about anything it doesn’t seem to make much difference with Latin American politicians. But as a short hand for who you should support, who you should be horrified by, it seems a useful enough short hand.

The BBC tells is that Jair Bolsonaro is a “far right populist“:

A far-right candidate, Jair Bolsonaro, has won the first round of Brazil’s presidential election.

He will face the left-wing Workers’ Party candidate, Fernando Haddad, in the second round on 28 October after he failed to win the 50% of valid votes needed to win outright.

With almost all the votes counted, Mr Bolsonaro had 46% and Mr Haddad 29%.

Well, he’s in opposition to a party with “Workers'” in the title so obviously he’s right wing, right? This might be a reasonable enough outline of his policies:

Bolsonaro became known for his strong opposition to left-wing policies. Most notably, he has been a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage,[3] abortion,[4] affirmative action,[5] drug liberalization,[6] land reforms,[7] and secularism.[7] He has recently advocated for economic liberal policies

Socially conservative – to what extent isn’t made clear, is he recommending rounding up all the single mothers or not? – and economically liberal. That’s hardly “far right” now, is it? Unless the definition is just to be the right end of whatever political spectrum exists at the time? But of course this is the most interesting part at The Guardian:

Latin America’s largest democracy was on tenterhooks on Sunday as 147 million voters went to the polls to elect Brazil’s next president, with a far-right populist leading what some call the most critical race for power in Brazilian history.

Eve of election polls gave Jair Bolsonaro, a pro-dictatorship former paratrooper, a lead of at least 15 points over his closest rival, the Workers’ party (PT) candidate Fernando Haddad, with 40% of intended votes to Haddad’s 25%.

Pro-dictatorship former paratrooper? Why isn’t The Guardian slavering at the thought that he might take power? They did over Hugo Chavez, a pro-dictatorship populist former paratrooper, didn’t they?

Would anyone like to tell us what is actually “far right” about him or his views? And is it his social views or the idea that he might privatise a thing or two that has The Guardian calling him “far right”?

We’ve also that interesting conundrum, what exactly is wrong with being populist? As opposed, say, to gaining popular support?