Brazil enters new era with far-right president

Brasília: Brazil entered a new chapter in its history on Tuesday, embracing a far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, whose determination to break with decades of centrist rule has raised both hopes and fears.
The former paratrooper and longtime lawmaker was starting his four-year mandate on January 1 as required by the constitution, after a night of New Year’s celebrations across the country.
He was taking office with a sky-high approval rating, fuelled by public expectations that he will be a new broom sweeping away chronic crime and corruption, and boosting an economy still limping after a record recession.
“I will bring in politics completely different from that which brought corruption and inefficiency to Brazil,” he said late on Monday in an interview with Record TV.
The 63-year-old comfortably won an October election against Fernando Haddad, a candidate from the left-wing Workers Party that was in
power between 2003 and 2016 but is now reviled after a series of graft scandals.
The Workers Party icon, former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, is serving prison time for corruption. And his chosen successor Dilma Rousseff was impeached for cooking the government’s books.
In a ceremony marked by pomp and high security, Bolsonaro was set to formally take over from centre-right Michel Temer, who succeeded Rousseff but made little headway with needed fiscal reform and ended up Brazil’s most unpopular leader ever.
Bolsonaro voters hope their man will do better.
He has promised to govern for all of the country’s 210 million Brazilians, and campaigned on vows to eradicate graft, crack down on crime, open up Brazil’s protectionist economy to the free market, and put business interests ahead of environmental protection.
In his interview, he said “we will debureaucratise to the maximum possible” and “clean out” the government so its “weight” is cut back.
But there has been no sign of him dropping the bluff, shoot-from-the-lip style that has earned him comparisons with US President Donald Trump, whom he admires.
— AFP