Brazilian businesses supports Bolsonaro, but with doubts

A boat transports logs along the Murutipucu River in northeast Para, Brazil in September 2020. (Photo: Tarso Sarraf/AFP/File)

Experts predict that Brazil's business community, which views the economic policies of leftist presidential candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva with distrust, would vote again for incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, albeit with greater reluctance this time.

Bolsonaro, who was elected in 2018 on a promise to limit state intrusion, kept his word by implementing a series of pro-business initiatives, including privatizations and fiscal reform.

According to Daniela Campello, a political science expert at the Getulio Vargas Foundation, small and medium-sized business owners admired Bolsonaro's refusal to halt the economy during the coronavirus outbreak, which claimed the lives of 685,000 Brazilians.

The post-pandemic economic recovery also benefited the president.

After experiencing a decline in GDP during the epidemic, Latin America's largest economy increased by 4.6% in 2021 and is projected to expand by 2.65% this year.

Economic expansion

According to Campello, business executives are concerned that Lula will impose "greater state interventionism in the economy and a commitment to redistribution in favor of workers, his electorate,"

For instance, Lula has pledged to reverse a 2017 labor reform that was widely condemned by labor rights organizations.

The agribusiness industry, which accounts for over 28 percent of Brazil's gross domestic product, is one of Bolsonaro's most ardent backers.

A significant grain producer, Oscar Cervi, is one of the top backers of Bolsonaro's campaign, donating one million reais (about $200,000).

Even tractors participated in the traditional military parade held in Brasilia on September 7 as part of independence day celebrations.

Luiz Carlos Correa Carvalho, president of the Brazilian agribusiness group, stated that the industry has benefited from investments in infrastructure such as ports and trains, and continues to do well despite the problems brought by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Bolsonaro's resistance to the land claims of Brazil's indigenous communities — a matter now before the Supreme Court — was also popular with a sector that depends on cutting down rainforests to create cropland.

"Lula even referred to the agribusiness as 'right-wing and fascist,'" said Correa Carvalho. "As a result, producers are terrified and view him as a threat."

Support not unanimous

The agrobusiness sector is also concerned that Lula would follow the example of neighboring Argentina's center-left President Alberto Fernandez and implement export restrictions.

A number of the president's supporters are currently under investigation by the Supreme Court for expressing support for a coup d'etat should Bolsonaro lose the election.

However, this staunch backing for the leader of the far right is not unanimous.

Luis Stuhlberger, a businessman, claims he will "never again" vote for the "psychopath" Bolsonaro.

Publish : 2022-09-23 10:08:00

Give Your Comments