An unexpected bonanza
in Beef, Bible and Bullets
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Chapter 14 examines the sudden and unexpected rise in Bolsonaro’s popularity during the second half of 2020 and assesses his prospects for the rest of his four-year term and beyond. The temporary emergency grant paid to 67 million Brazilians dramatically increased the spending power of the poorest Brazilians. At the end of 2020, opinion polls suggested that Bolsonaro’s popularity in the north, north-east and centre-west of the country had increased, even though his COVID-19 denialism and shoddy management of the pandemic alarmed many private-sector and middle-class supporters. A new political alliance with a group of conservative parties known as the big centre or the Centrão has helped shore up the president’s support in the legislature and headed off the risk of impeachment. These advances, however, were not based on solid ground. As this book went to press – in late March 2021 – the rapid rise in coronavirus cases and deaths brought the conflicts between Bolsonaro’s radical right-wing base and more mainstream conservatives out into the open. Bolsonaro came under fierce pressure from Brazil’s powerful business elite and his new congressional allies to change his stance on the country’s health crisis. Impeachment was yet again in the air. Bolsonaro’s political future seemed far from assured.

Beef, Bible and Bullets

Brazil in the age of Bolsonaro

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