RIO DE JANEIRO – Some Brazilians who voted for Jair Bolsonaro as president last October now say they regret their choice, while others still loyal to the far-right leader admit that the government faces some problems that they blame on the opposition and the head of state’s difficulties in dealing with Congress.
The feelings of regret over choosing the army reserve captain, who seduced millions with his promise to end widespread corruption, were reflected in a poll released by Datafolha this week, coinciding with the first 100 days of the government on Wednesday.
Exactly six months after being elected with 55 percent of the total vote, nearly one-third of voters – 30 percent – rated the government negatively after its first 100 days, while 32 percent considered its performance positive and 33 percent rated it as average.
The sense of frustration among some Bolsonaro voters was verified by EFE during a visit to one of the itinerant public markets in Rio de Janeiro, where many of those who voted for the captain chose to remain anonymous and speak away from cameras and microphones.
Yet, among the few who agreed to speak, half said they regretted their choice.
Adeilton Oliveira, a 55-year-old banana merchant, told EFE of his disillusionment with the president he helped elect.
“I voted for Bolsonaro and I am sorry. In my opinion, he is running a bad administration ... He is very confused about certain things,” Oliveira said.
Oliveira said the president should have already produced some results and acted more “aggressive” against corruption.
Vagnos Francisco Nunes Almeida, 44, who sells eggs and chicken at the market, also said he was having second thoughts.
“I still like him, but not as much as before. I think that 100 days in office is enough and he should have shown (some progress by now),” he said.
Almeida said the president “has not yet fulfilled the promises he made for the (first) 100 days.”
Andre Luis Alves Ribeiro, a 47-year-old vendor at the market, said he did not regret voting for Bolsonaro and was confident that the leader would improve his performance despite the opposition’s efforts to prevent him from governing.
“He did not fulfill what he promised for the first 100 days because he has had many difficulties in getting his bills approved (in Congress) and the opposition is preventing him from doing many things he wants to do,” he said, referring to Congress’s resistance to the administration’s key legislation.
Bolsonaro’s main campaign promises were retirement system reform and tougher laws against corruption.
Marcio Alves, a 54-year-old who owns a restaurant near the market, also said he was not sorry about voting for Bolsonaro and blamed Congress for the administration’s problems.
“He is trying to keep (his promises), but it is very difficult when you have a Congress used to doing things in exchange for favors. If the president does not accept what they ask, it is very difficult for him to get his bills approved,” Alves said.
The president’s highest approval rating – 41 percent – is among people with higher levels of education and among those with incomes between five and 10 times the minimum wage.
In Sao Paulo – another political bastion for Bolsonaro during the election – many of his supporters went from euphoria to caution during the first 100 days, but the voices in support of the president are still being heard and they give a vote of confidence to the “military past” of Bolsonaro and some members of his Cabinet.
“When the soldier assumes an inappropriate or erroneous attitude, he is punished and removed from the ‘box’ like a rotten apple,” 55-year-old gastroenterologist and former soldier Paulista Luiz Fernando Brandao said in defense of the military’s presence in Bolsonaro’s administration.
Bolsonaro and several other soldiers managed to get power through the ballot box and not by force of arms, Brandao said.
“What happened is that the soldiers ran intelligently for candidacy and what we observed was that the people massively wanted something totally different from what we were living with since the time of Joao VI,” the Portuguese monarch who moved his kingdom to Brazil at the beginning of the 19th century, the doctor said.