Bolsonaro’s Distance from Municipal Vote Shows Coalition Issues

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said he will not endorse any mayoral candidate in the first round of upcoming November elections in a sign of the disarray of his political coalition.

“I have a lot of work as president and that activity would take up all of my time in a moment of pandemic and the return of our economy,” he twitted Friday.

The decision means Bolsonaro will probably miss a key opportunity to forge political alliances ahead of his re-election campaign in 2022. But it’s not that he had many choices: the far-right president currently has no political affiliation after leaving the Social Liberal Party last year to launch his Alliance for Brazil, a party that hasn’t taken off yet.

His allegiances have also dramatically changed since he took office, with some of his initial allies becoming adversaries, and some of his enemies starting to support him. Recent examples include the governors of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro -- Joao Doria and Wilson Witzel, respectively -- who surfed the Bolsonaro wave to get elected in 2018 but who have since parted ways with the president.

Read more: Rio Governor Removed From Office Amid Corruption Probe

“Not participating in the electoral dispute is a way of protecting his image,” said Deysi Cioccari, a political scientist with the Pontifical Catholic University of Sao Paulo. “But it also shows a politically weakened president in terms of cohesion.”

Despite the lack of political organization, Bolsonaro’s approval rating has jumped to the highest level since he took office, mostly thanks to emergency payments made to poor Brazilians during the pandemic.

“The emergency aid obviously gave him the security to not have to put himself out there in an election where he has no allies,” said Cioccari.

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