Jair Bolsonaro is not the only reason his country is in a ditch

  • First, they gave in to short-termism and put off liberal economic reforms.
    Blame for this belongs chiefly with the left-wing Workers’ Party, in office in 2003–16. It oversaw growth of 4% a year but did not invest to raise productivity. When commodity prices fell, Brazil faced one of its worst-ever recessions. The governments of Michel Temer and Mr Bolsonaro made some progress on reform, but stopped far short of what is needed.
  • Second, in their efforts to shield themselves from the fallout of Lava Jato, a huge anti-corruption probe, politicians have resisted reforms that would curb graft.
    The prosecutors and judges behind Lava Jato are partly to blame. After some were shown to have had a political agenda, their probe became bogged down in Congress and the courts.
  • Finally, Brazil’s political system is a millstone.
    State-sized districts and 30 parties in Congress make elections expensive. Even more than in other countries, politicians tend to back splashy vote-winning projects rather than worthy long-term reform.
    Once in office, they stick with the flawed rules that got them elected.
    They enjoy legal privileges that make them hard to prosecute, and a huge pot of money to help them keep power.
    As a result, Brazilians despise them. In 2018 only 3% said they trusted Congress “a lot”.

A long journey ahead

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Joaquim Cardoso @ BCG

Joaquim Cardoso @ BCG

Senior Advisor for Health Care Strategy to BCG — Boston Consulting Group