In this Spotlight, we ask: What are the five most important areas Brazil’s new administration must focus on to effectively fight corruption?
Rodrigo Janot Monteiro de Barros, former Prosecutor General of Brazil (2013-2017), Nonresident Senior Fellow, Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, Atlantic Council
On October 28, Brazilians elected Jair Messias Bolsonaro as the next president of the republic, following a hyper-polarized and contentious election. The impetus, in part, for the frustration: Brazilians’ anger with rampant corruption. Today, Brazil finds itself at an important crossroads. On January 1, 2019, President Bolsonaro entered office. The next few months will define, among several critical issues, whether Brazil can advance the fight against corruption—one of the central pillars of discussion in this year’s election.
Before delving into the five areas the next administration will have to address to improve transparency, it is essential to note that for the first time, Brazilian general elections did not include the financial backing of corporations. This change comes following the Federal Supreme Court declaring corporate donations unconstitutional in a 2015 ruling. The law, which also saw the implementation of the Fundo Especial de Financiamento de Campanha (Special Campaign Financing Fund), sought to eradicate what Operation Car Wash identified as countless dubious relations between Brazilian companies and politicians. These ended up muddying the electoral process and influencing outcomes.
As well, Brazilian voters increasingly elected new representatives not only because of a desire for change, but also due to many established political leaders being beleaguered by investigations and criminal cases for committing crimes of corruption, malfeasance, and criminal organization.