Elections in Brazil: Will Bolsonaro’s rule end?

Panel Discussion

An event organized by the Austrian Latin American Institute in cooperation with the Research Network Latin America.
Free participation. Registration required (with the number of persons): office@lai.at

The whole world will be watching Brazil on October 2, as 148 million eligible citizens will be called upon to elect the president and the national congress of Latin America’s largest country and economy. The presidential elections in particular will be among the country’s most consequential political moments in decades. Brazilians will not only decide on the next head of state and government, but on the future of their democracy. After Bolsonaro’s destructive term in office, Brazil is a divided country. The political clear-cutting during the last four years has not only affected the Amazon Forest, but has also damaged important democratic institutions. The Bolsonaro administration chose open conflict with all who opposed its decisions. This could now be his undoing.

On an international level, Bolsonaro’s reign has been particularly marked by negative headlines about his destructive environmental policies and his devastating response to Covid-19. The destruction of the rainforest has reached historic proportions. It is a bitter „success“ of Bolsonaro’s policies: environmental agencies have been financially starved, controls have ceased, and illegal gold mining in particular has been systematically favoured. In the territory of the Yanomami, one of the largest indigenous territories in Amazonia, where 29,000 indigenous people live, 25,000 gold miners have invaded. Moreover, his policies have further marginalized and threatened the livelihood of already socially marginalized groups such as indigenous peoples and LGBTQ communities.

The incumbent president is running against the candidate of the Workers‘ Party, former President President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Lula governed Brazil from 2003 to 2011, was acquitted by the court after years in prison on corruption charges and is now considered by many the strongest hope to bring Brazil back on a democratic course. Polls show a clear lead for Lula.

The key issue of this election is therefore not so much who will win the race, but whether Bolsonsro will accept being voted out. The president has repeatedly indicated that he will not respect the results of the vote if he loses: “I’m not worried about staying president … My message is: only God takes me out of that post.”

This discussion will bring together renowned experts to analyse the disastrous record of Bolsonaro. With the country’s broader historical context in mind, they will explain recent changes in the state apparatus, the destructive environmental policy in the Amazon region and resulting threats to indigenous peoples, as well as important sectors of the economy that are tainted with major allegations of corruption, such as raw materials and agricultural policy. The analysis also includes the impact of the militarization of key democratic institutions in Brazil on regional and global level.

Against this backdrop, the possible outcome of the election and potential consequences of a renewed Lula administration will be discussed with the audience.


Andreas Novy is socioeconomist, head of the Institute for Multi-Level Governance and Development (MLGD) at the Department of Socioeconomics, at WU Vienna, president of the International Karl Polanyi Society (IKPS) and member of the Foundational Economy Collective. He did extensive research on Brazil and is currently working on social-ecological transformation and the contested provision of care and housing. He is Co-Chair in the APCC Special Report 22 on “Structures for climate-friendly living” and Coordinating Lead Author in AAR2, the Second Austrian Assessment Report on Climate Change.

Camila Moreno is an independent researcher from Brazil and an active member of Grupo Carta de Belém/Belém Letter Group, a brazilian civil society coalition resisting the financialization of nature. Her main area of work is the interface between the greening of capitalism, climate policy and global environmental governance. She has been attending the UNFCCC climate negotiations as an observer since 2008. Key topics of her work are a critique of carbon metrics, digitalization, technocracy and epistemology.

Edson Krenak is an indigenous activist, writer and doctoral student in the field of legal anthropology at the University of Vienna. He holds a degree in linguistics and literary theory from the Federal University of São Carlos, Brazil. He works as a speaker and trainer at Instituto Uka in Brazil a Indígenous organizations. Krenak has published numerous texts on indigenous peoples literature, politics and indigenous rights.

Ursula Prutsch is Associate Professor for North American Cultural History at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU), Munich. She teaches US-American as well as Latin American history. Her research focuses on the history of the United States, Brazil and Argentina from the 19th to the 21st century, on nation-building, populism, on Inter-American as well as transatlantic relations. She is member of the LAI and chairman of the “Lateinamerikaforschung Austria” (LAF).


Berthold Molden teaches global history at the University of Vienna. His research focuses on the relations between Latin America, the USA and Europe since the mid-20th century. Molden has taught at the Sorbonne, the University of Chicago, and the Universities of Toulouse and New Orleans, among others. He is chairman of the LAI Support Association.

Event in English, discussion contributions in German, Portuguese or Spanish can be translated consecutively.

Kategorie: Veranstaltungen
Datum: 29. September 2022, 18:30–20:30
Ort: Österreichisches Lateinamerika-Institut