Jair Bolsonaro's power

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By Luiz Carlos Bresser-Pereira*

There has never been a government in Brazil that has lost as much social support as the one that is there. A government that stands against virtually all sectors of society to gain the support of a populist extreme right. A government that bets on chaos to have more power, but has less and less power

On February 27, on my public Facebook page, I stated that the Bolsonaro government had lost the support of economic and political elites; it therefore lost social legitimacy and no longer governed. It did not, therefore, have the support of society to face the internal crisis characterized by GDP growth of 1,1% in 2019, and the soaring dollar.

This week has added to the internal crisis the panic in all stock exchanges in the world with the recession that the coronavirus is likely to cause. The drop on the São Paulo Stock Exchange, 25,9%, however, was much greater in the week from March 9 to 13 than on the New York Stock Exchange, 16,5%. Why? Essentially because, given this crisis of legitimacy, the Bolsonaro government is currently suffering from a dramatic loss of power.

That same week, Congress rejected the president's veto of the bill increasing the scope of the Continuous Cash Benefit (BCP) to half a minimum wage. The executive power was, therefore, unable to avoid an additional expense without the respective source of revenue which, this year alone, should cost R$ 20 billion. We are seeing this loss of government power also in its inability to respond adequately to the coronavirus pandemic.

But the problem is not just a loss of power, it is also not knowing how to use it, as seen since he took office in January 2019. Instead of facing unemployment and lack of demand with a large public investment plan, the government promises that growth will resume as soon as the next reform is approved. Reforms happen, some of them were necessary, like the Social Security reform, but growth does not come.

And so the economic crisis is internal, adding to the international crisis. How long will this be bearable? I don't know. But I am sure of one thing: there has never been a government in Brazil that has lost as much social support as the one that is there. A government that stands against virtually all sectors of society to gain the support of a populist extreme right. A government that bets on chaos to have more power, but has less and less power.

Luiz Carlos Bresser-Pereira He is Professor Emeritus at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV-SP).

Article originally published on the Facebook from the author.

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