Brazil’s scandal-plagued President may face a reckoning as lawmakers consider impeachment
Corruption inquiries, a spreading Covid-19 crisis, plunging popularity and persistent bouts of hiccups. Brazil’s scandal-plagued President Jair Bolsonaro just can’t seem to catch a break.
The President said he’s now feeling “100% well” after his recent health scare, a consequence he says of a failed assassination attempt in 2018, telling TV Brasil, “If God wishes, I’ll fulfill this mission until the last day.”
But that last day may come sooner than expected, with a majority of Brazilians for the first time in favor of lawmakers launching impeachment proceedings against their controversial leader, according to recent polling.
While impeachment is far from certain, a poll by Datafolha found 54% of Brazilians support a proposed move by lawmakers to open impeachment proceedings against Bolsonaro. The July poll also found 51% of Brazilians considered the Bolsonaro presidency “bad” or “awful.”
Bolsonaro’s government has been implicated in corruption allegations, resulting in a parliamentary inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic.
There have been nearly 20 million cases of the virus reported in Brazil, according to the Johns Hopkins University database, ranking it third in the world after the United States and India. The death toll has topped 544,000 and there continue to be more than a thousand deaths each day. Only around 16% of the population is vaccinated.
Bolsonaro has been at the center of the storm, having downplayed the gravity of the virus from the beginning. This week, the President criticized governors for taking restrictive measures to contain the spread.
“Many governors have closed everything. They have destroyed jobs, especially informal ones. We have around 38 million people in Brazil who live from day to day, who work in the morning to eat at night,” he said. “They have lost everything. If there wasn’t emergency aid by the federal government, these people would be condemned to starvation.”
During an interview with public network TV Brasil on Tuesday, Bolsonaro criticized the Brazilian press and congratulated his government’s handling of the pandemic.
“I have a clear conscience,” Bolsonaro said. “Brazil is one of the countries that has best behaved during the pandemic, period. Congratulations to Brazil. I thank my team of 22 ministers.”
In July 2020, Bolsonaro announced he tested positive for Covid-19, following months of downplaying the virus. He and his government have resisted lockdown measures and mask-wearing. Angry citizens, political adversaries and overwhelmed local officials have pressed Bolsonaro for more federal action, even as he has publicly shrugged off those concerns.
The Brazilian Senate inquiry into the government’s response may hobble Bolsonaro’s reelection bid if it leads to an impeachment proceeding or criminal charges.