Ipanema beach in Rio de Janeiro

Political situation Internal political tensions

After a “golden decade” of growth (2003 to 2013) accompanied by success in reducing poverty, Brazil is currently going through a difficult phase in economic, political and social terms.

In the years leading up to 2018, far-reaching corruption scandals and poor economic development caused a surge in discontent among the population. The presidential elections in 2018 were won by Jair Bolsonaro, whose focus in the election campaign was on fighting corruption and crime, and on boosting the economy.

During Bolsonaro's presidency, internal political tensions emerged in Brazil. Among other things, the protection and demarcation of indigenous territories, which are enshrined in the country's constitution, was increasingly called into question; legal requirements for environmental protection and forest conservation were eased in favour of advancing the economic development of the Amazon region. The judiciary played a crucial role in safeguarding democratic freedoms and in ensuring compliance with existing laws.

Presidential elections were held again in October 2022. In the run-off election, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who had been president before, defeated incumbent president Bolsonaro, winning 50.9 per cent of the vote. Now Lula da Silva is facing the difficult task of restoring social peace within a divided society. Challenges include the economic and social consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and of the war against Ukraine as well as reforms that are needed in areas such as environmental protection and climate action, and taxation.

Human rights

The level of violence in Brazil and the country's homicide rate are among the highest in the world. For many people, especially in the megacities of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, drug and gang crime is part of everyday life.

Human rights organisations regularly report evidence of police killings. They also say that environmental activists and defenders of human rights and land rights are frequently the targets of attacks, threats and intimidation attempts by government authorities and criminal networks.

As at: 19/01/2023