Under the auspices of the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff (PT) and the then decline of the Workers’ Party due to allegations of corruption added to the shaken sense of representativeness among voters, anti-politics became a concept and a common word in 2016 and the 2018 elections. With it, new characters and parties appeared, vote winners and elected positions with good numbers drawn from the ballot boxes.
To see if this year’s elections still have the opportunity to use this speech to attract votes, the report TIME talked to experts in the field of political science and political marketing. The result of the assessments is that the negation of politics – and politicians – is in shambles by the general election in October.
Candidates who were elected in 2016 and 2018 with the message that they were not politicians will struggle to repeat the speech this year. President Jair Bolsonaro (PL), for example, joined the acronyms for the so-called Centrão, formed by traditional politicians such as Ciro Nogueira and Artur Lira of the NP, and PL president Valdemar da Costa Neto. “It seems to me that anti-politics will not take root in 2022, because those who used it benefited from being elected and stopped being anti-political by becoming politicians anyway,” said Adriano Cerqueira, political scientist and professor at Ibmec-BH .
In turn, political scientist and professor at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) Carlos Ranulfo is even more skeptical about the use of anti-political discourse. “That motto has passed and I think it has lost a lot of power, not least because the biggest symbol was Bolsonaro,” he analyzed.
In Minas Gerais, Governor Romeu Zema (Novo) ran his first campaign without allying with any party and presented himself as a businessman who had never been involved in party politics. In four years, he will run for re-election with the support of about 10 parties. “He was better at using anti-political discourse, but if he was an unconventional politician, he would not have gone for re-election,” the UFMG political scientist said.
Zema’s main opponent, Alexander Kalil (SDP), was also forced to change his position in the elections for the government of Minas Gerais. In 2016, he was elected leader of the Belo Horizonte City Hall under the slogan “No more politicians”. During his term, he has come to consider himself a “good politician” and is now banking on an alliance with former President Lula (PT) to become the next governor. “Kalil (for re-election as mayor) in 2020 was no longer that newcomer. He acknowledged this, but accepted the discourse that his proposal was to act differently (toward traditional politicians),” assesses Erica Anita Baptista, PhD in Political Science and coordinator of the Brazilian Association of Election Researchers Observatory (Abrapel) .
Ibmec’s Serqueira’s analysis is that the two main candidates for the Minas government will try to highlight their own characteristics instead of trying to negate the policy. “Zema will present himself as a man who managed to create a well-appreciated government and not become addicted to old political practices. Kalil, on the other hand, will take advantage of the administrative success and Lula to become famous in Minas, mainly within the state,” he said.
Marcelo Vitorino, professor of political marketing at the IDP and ESPM, believes that the anti-political discourse has lost power and space, but can still resonate with part of the electorate.
“In 2016, about 40% of mayors were re-elected. In 2020, it was almost 60%. You had almost 50% re-election. This already shows that the renewal climate has changed. The novelty attempt was exhausted in 2020. Some traditional politicians have returned to take places that newcomers could previously fill,” he said.
One concept, two views
The term “anti-politics”, widely used in the Brazilian elections since 2016, received different opinions among experts who listened to O TEMPO. While UFMG’s Carlos Ranulfo sees the speech as an enemy of democracy, Adriano Cerqueira sees it as a new way of doing politics.
Ranulfo believes that discrediting the political account is harmful to the democratic system by spreading bad practices throughout the system: “The anti-political discourse gives the impression that the entire politico-democratic process is corrupt when politicians do nothing. Politics is a system of containment of power. If you don’t slow down, you are moving away from democracy,” he believes.
Serqueira, on the other hand, sees it as an alternative to the traditional way of doing politics. According to him, the Workers’ Party (PT) did something similar in the 1980s, imagining a “PT-image of government”. “We must think calmly about anti-politics, it is one thing to defend anarchism, but this is not so. who introduced himself [como antipolítico] it is against old political practices and wants new ways. I see a lot in this sense of wanting to break old practices,” he emphasizes.
Orientation to the economy and experience of the candidate
Based on an analysis of voter polls, Abrapel’s Erika Anita Baptista states that voters tend to look for candidates with more experience in this year’s elections, in contrast to what happened in 2016 and 2018, when a change in the political system was required.
She attributes this transformation in the will of the electorate to the pandemic and the economic and political crises. “We have been through a lot in the last few years. So people are looking for someone with a bit more experience and who can drive in a way that makes them feel more confident. People don’t want someone to fly in with a parachute and come up with something completely new. Here’s what the studies showed: Brazilians showed no signs of striving for radical change, ”the political scientist said.
According to Erika Anita, voters are unhappy with the direction of the economy. “They don’t feel safe, for example, making investments and buying something that they will have to pay for for years because they don’t know if they will have a job to support it,” he said.
Marcelo Vitorino of ESPM and IDP takes a similar stance. In his opinion, the 2022 elections will be determined mainly by economic discourse. “On the one hand, there will be an argument that the economy has progressed and should develop further. On the other hand, it will be said that Brazil has regressed and needs to be renewed. Whoever is the most persuasive wins this election. If a person’s life has stalled, he is likely to take a position of continuity with the current government. If it gets worse, it is likely that she will decide to change the government, ”predicts a professor of political marketing.