Jair Bolsonaro, a populist more dangerous than Trump

The widely discussed case for “Bolsonarism” being a form of neo-fascism hinges not just on bigotry, violence and authoritarianism, but on the interests that have rallied to him. The nucleus of his support — as per classic studies on fascism — is a middle class made up of small business owners and independent professionals, plus members of the police and armed forces. Though sections of the poor have also voted for him — mobilized by a worsening public security situation — the rich and educated support him in much larger proportions; this has been a decisive factor in this success so far.

The upper-middle classes and the elite have long been animated by a barely coded class hatred that is fixated on the Workers Party (PT). This so-called “Antipetismo” fueled the move to impeach then-President Dilma Rousseff (a member of the Workers Party) on scant legal grounds. The parliamentary coup and break with democratic norms further delegitimized an already scandal-ridden political system. And the subsequent, disastrous rule of elite-backed Michel Temer spurred a radicalization of the right, with conservative voters abandoning their traditional parties in favor of the extremist Bolsonaro.

Big business has flocked to the former army captain.