‘Brazil above Everything, God above Everyone’: Brazilian New Nationalism on Bolsonaro’s Presidential Campaign

Dr. Flávio Contrera

Do the Bolsonaro positions in the 2018 presidential election represent a new Brazilian nationalism? Far right-wing parties’ victories around the world in the last years indicates the resurgence of a new type of nationalism. Britain's decision to leave the European Union was driven by anti-immigration rhetoric and opposition to community interaction. In the 2016 US presidential election, Donald Trump's victory was grounded by belligerent, sexist and xenophobic rhetoric. In the current European context, nationalism is founded on an opposition to European integration, which is expressed in xenophobia, racism, hatred of immigrants and gypsies, and islamophobia. Indeed, nationalism type varies across countries and cannot be understood as a linear and coherent phenomenon. In Brazil, the Street Demonstrations of June 2013 gave visibility to a conservative and authoritarian nationalist discourse, linked to the ideals of anti-corruption. President Rousseff's impeachment, the arrest of former President Lula da Silva and the growth of an anti-left sentiment within society fostered a new right-wing nationalism, led by Jair Bolsonaro, a former army captain and longtime congressman. This paper aimed to identify nationalist values in the positions expressed by Jair Bolsonaro during the 2018 presidential campaign and differentiate them from the old Brazilian nationalism. To this end, we have conducted a mixed-methods content analysis of Bolsonaro's positions by categorizing nationalists values from his speeches and tweets, his party campaign manifesto and his television propaganda during the Brazilian presidential election of 2018. Findings indicates that Bolsonaro's positions express a new Brazilian nationalism, founded on religious, authoritarian, and patriotic values, and, paradoxically, on a privatizing neoliberalism that contrasts to the twentieth-century Brazilian nationalism and to the European new nationalism.