Friday, September 21, 2018

Is Bolsonaro Like Trump?

Curious analysis in The Monkey Cage by Felipe Krause and André Borges, arguing that Jair Bolsonaro is not like Donald Trump.

Commentators are comparing Brazil's political crisis with Brexit, the election of Donald Trump in the United States and populist movements elsewhere. Fear, fake news and acrimonious polarization, so the story goes, are driving an angry electorate into the arms of a dangerous and extreme candidate. 
But we do not yet know whether Bolsonaro will win. Comparisons with Trump and Brexit are overblown. Here's why.

The "whys" are all electoral. Their argument is that Bolsonaro will make it to a second round, then lose. OK, that's something to debate. But it has nothing to do with whether Bolsonaro and Trump should be compared. The similarities between them, combined with the extreme polarization in Brazil, make them an excellent comparison.

Indeed, one of the ways we can fruitfully compare them is to rewind two years and remember how political scientists proclaimed that Donald Trump had no chance of winning. You have to shift back to the center after the primaries, etc. We've heard this story before. The reasons for saying Bolsonaro won't win make perfect sense and yet they could be wrong.

Should we compare Bolsonaro to Trump? A resounding yes. Should we assume Bolsonaro will lose? A resounding no.


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