by Adriana Luisa Alves Ortiz
Reviewed by Matheus Lucas Hebling
The presidents Jair Bolsonaro and Andrzej Duda are right-wing leaders elected in Brazil and Poland (Bolsonaro was elected in 2018 and Andrzej Duda was elected in 2015 and re-elected in 2020) through direct votes in democratic republics.
These two leaders prioritize the economy, reduce the government interference, minimize the welfare state and act according to relative morals and tradition, concretizing a moral-political project that allows them to have more power and contain government intervention, even if is not aligned with democracy ideal; so, they are related to the “Hayekian Neoliberalism” concept of conserving the traditional hierarchies, denies the social and contain the democratic power, just as Wendy Brown explains in her work “In The Ruins of Neoliberalism”. These characteristics will guide them as populists and conservatives.
Their populism, defined by Cas Mudde (2004), is a kind of division of the society between homogeneous or “pure people”, composed of voters and antagonists or “corrupt elite”, the enemy of the nation. Who seeks to take power from the corrupt elite becomes the savior and represents the will of the people. This explains the constant attacks by Jair Bolsonaro against the Workers’ Party (PT) and by Andrzej Duda against the European Union.
Bolsonaro used his social media accounts and the television during the presidential campaign in 2018 to accuse the PT (the presidential party from 2002 until 2016) of being involved in the most corruption scandal in the world history and showed himself as an “anti-system” figure, since he was part of the PSL, one of few parties that weren’t involved in the scandal. He intended to show Brazilians, tired of the corrupted system, that he would be the only alternative to end corruption.
Andrzej Duda uttered Eurosceptic speeches in his electoral campaign for the presidency in 2015, accusing the European Union constantly. As an example, in the Refugee Crisis, he said Europe would violate the human rights by forcing refugees to live in another continent and promoted Islamophobic speeches like “we don’t know how many terrorists in potential are coming”, to blame the Union again and be identified as a leader of a nation that, in 71%, believed refugees would increase domestic terrorism, according to the Pew Research Center, published in 2016.
However, conservatism appears in both cases too, like when the Polish president said in one of his 2020 election campaigns that “LGBTI ideology” is more destructive than communism, showing closeness to the 87% Roman Catholic Poles, which is quite conservative, and afraid to live once more the past of communism domination. Just like him, Bolsonaro said the “gender ideology” is a “devil thing” brought by the PT and that it should be out of schools. Also, his slogan “Brazil above all and God above everyone” was conquered to spread a patriotic and fundamentalistic Christian idea.
These discourses show a similar thought in two distinct countries, and, to get a sense of how different the context these discourses emerge, we can think about the insertion of Poland and Brazil in the Global North and South division proposed by Brandt’s Line.
The Brandt Line proposed by the German Chancellor Willy Brandt (1977) suggests the division of the world by aspects related to economy and development.
The countries with high economic and technological development, great social scores, trade relations in surplus, and low dependence on foreign relations belong to the Global North. In contrast, countries of the Global South have a past marked by colonization and exploitation of resources, followed by a quick growth after the independence process and has growing economic and social indices; in terms of foreign policy, the international trade relations of these countries are almost always geared towards the export of the first sector and they have a high dependence on the importation of products and technology from the richest countries.
Therefore, it can be said that Poland belongs to the Global North and Brazil to the Global South, a factor that already makes them different in development terms. Furthermore, it is possible to distinguish these two countries in terms of regional integration.
The influence of regional integration
Integration results from an intensification of the relationship between States supported by the rescue of organized groups that seek to articulate at the transnational level as a way of strengthening their capacity to exert pressure and influence on their respective governments. These articulations, however, can generate new goals or even new identities. In any case, they influence the interests of domestic groups and change the formulation of political preferences. Therefore, they become important elements in the decision-making process of the countries”.(MARIANO, 2015, p. 171)
Brazil, an active member of Mercosur since its inception, has even disputed the regional leadership with Argentinean when the integration was starting. Poland, a distant member of the European Union, became part only by May 2004 and entered the Schengen Area on December 21, 2007, 20 years after its creation. Furthermore, the country has not joined the Euro yet and maintains its national currency unit (Polish Zloty).
Brazil has bigger proximity to its region and aims for strengthening the identity mentioned by the author much more than Poland, which presents a huge abstention and incessantly prioritizes its sovereignty and national identity.
Besides that, Poland and Brazil experienced a recent process of installing a democratic regime; in Brazil, it took place after 3 decades of dictatorship caused by a military coup in Brazil, which officially came to an end when the direct election of Tancredo Neves happened in 1985 and Poland after more than 4 decades of communist domination, until 1989, with the installation of the semi-presidential democratic republic system.
All those facts shown make Brazil and Poland so different; although there are not enough facts to explain how civilians from both countries legitimize leaders with illegitimate speeches, there are two considerable points: globalization and social media.
Returning to 2012, when Barack Obama used Facebook posts during the US elections, his campaign was successful and he was elected. But the engagement increased in posts dedicated to attacking other candidates (Stetka et al., 2019: 6). This tactic was spread in some European countries, such as Poland and later the same happened in Brazil.
These cases go back to Stuart Hall’s definition of globalization, which is a set of:
processes operating on a global scale that cross national borders, integrate and connect communities and organizations in new combinations of space-time, which make the world, in reality, and inexperience, more interconnected. (HALL, 1992, p. 67)
But not only that, as Homero Gil affirms in “Social media and democracy”, the social media give the people an opportunity to express themselves all around the world regardless of social, cultural, and geographical status; so, they feel free to share their thoughts on social media just because of the desire to tell the world what they think or how they feel.
Thus, the use of social media was essential for them to capture the opposition of Brazilians and Poles, to dedicate their posts to attacks, and to be identified as the representatives of the will of the people. Once it happened in one country successfully, the same happened in others, concretizing Stuart Hall’s concept.
Considering all the elements of divergence, they didn’t matter too much in terms of politics. Nevertheless, social media caused direct impacts, and it deserves attention since the types of discourse internalized coerce opinions, disrespect minorities, and violate democracy.
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Adriana Luisa Alves Ortiz is a member of the BRaS Research Group Social in Media Studies and a volunteer intern in What’s Rel? E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adriana Luisa Alves Ortiz (2022) "Jair Bolsonaro and Andrzej Duda speeches: just a coincidence?". Brazilian Research and Studies Blog. ISSN 2701-4924. Vol. 3 Num. 1. available at: https://bras-center.com/jair-bolsonaro-and-andrzej-duda-speeches-just-a-coincidence/, accessed on: December 6, 2022.