ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 29/10/2018

File:Jair Bolsonaro pela EC 77 - Médico Militar no SUS.jpg

The New York Times – Ernesto Londoño and Shasta Darlington / Jair Bolsonaro, Far-Right Populist, Elected President of Brazil

  • Reeling from the deepest recession in the country’s history, a corruption scandal that tarnished politicians across the ideological spectrum, and a record-high number of homicides last year, Brazilians picked a candidate who not only rejected the political establishment but at times also seemed to reject the most basic democratic tenets. Admittedly, the way he run his campaign was very clever. He managed to align himself with the institutions that Brazilians still believe in: religion, family and armed forces.
  • Indeed, many Brazilians see authoritarian tendencies in Mr. Bolsonaro, who plans to appoint military leaders to top posts and said he would not accept the result if he were to lose. He has threatened to stack the Supreme Court by increasing the number of judges to 21 from 11 and to deal with political foes by giving them the choice of extermination or exile. Moreover, he vowed to give the police forces in Brazil — some of the most lethal in the world — expanded authority to kill suspects, saying with trademark bluntness that a “good criminal is a dead criminal.” He also promised to lower the age of criminal responsibility, impose stiffer sentences for violent crimes and ease Brazil’s gun ownership restrictions so civilians could better protect themselves.
  • Some of Bolsonaro´s remarks have been so offensive that the country’s attorney general earlier this year charged him with inciting hatred toward black, gay and indigenous people. In a country where most of the population is not white, this alone might have seemed to disqualify him. Yet, the vitriol and outrage Bolsonaro brought to the campaign trail as he traveled around the country largely mirrored Brazilians’ dystopian mood. Nearly 13 million people are unemployed. The homicide rate is among the highest in the world — last year, 63,880 people were killed. Part of Bolsonaro’s appeal lay in the extreme solutions he proposed to assuage the population’s anger and fear of violence.
  • Foreign Affairs – Roberto Simon and Brian Winter / Trumpism Comes to Brazil

The Guardian – Harriet Sherwood / Rising antisemitism worldwide boils over at Pittsburgh synagogue

  • The Pittsburgh shooting follows a 57% increase in antisemitic incidents in 2017 and was the deadliest assault on Jews in US history. Eleven people gunned down as they attended their local synagogue on Shabbat, the Jewish sabbath. Synagogues across the country locked their doors and an icy fear spread through Jewish communities.
  • The US is often thought to be the safest country in the world for Jews. Contrary to Europe where antisemitism flourishes on the far right and parts of the far left, things have been easier for Jews in the great melting pot of the US. At least that was the case for Pittsburgh Jews until last year. A 2017 study of the city’s Jewish community found that 63% of those in Squirrel Hill were “a little or somewhat” concerned about antisemitism, and 18% were “very much” concerned. Overall, the number of antisemitic incidents across the US as a whole rose 57% in 2017, according to an audit by the Anti-Defamation League.
  • Some blame the rise in hate speech and hate crime on a culture under Donald Trump’s leadership in which people are emboldened to express prejudice and hatred / See also: The Washington Post – Dana Milbank / Trump’s America is not a safe place for Jews
  • Foreign Policy – Michael Hirsh and Robbie Gramer / The Deadly Consequences of Dog-Whistle Politics

Financial Times – Guy Chazan / Merkel coalition under pressure after Hesse election setback

  • Angela Merkel’s grand coalition government was always a fragile construction. In the wake of Sunday’s election in the central region of Hesse, its odds of surviving a full term have shortened dramatically. The result was a disaster for both of the main government parties, with the Christian Democrats losing 11 percentage points and the Social Democrats suffering their worst result in a state that was once their stronghold.
  • Though diminished, Ms Merkel’s CDU remains the largest party in Hesse and has just about enough votes to renew its coalition with the Green Party, which saw a huge surge in support. That the CDU will be able to stay in power is good news for the chancellor. She may well have had to resign as CDU leader if the party had lost power in Hesse, a state it has ruled for 19 years. Though the result was terrible for the Christian Democrats, Ms Merkel has in some respects dodged a bullet — for now at least.
  • A dispute between two camps in the SPD is now likely to flare up again with renewed force:  It is between those who believe the only way the party can avoid further defeats is by quitting Ms Merkel’s grand coalition and renewing itself in opposition — and those who believe that quitting would be even more self-destructive than staying in. If the first group prevails and the SPD pulls out, Ms Merkel’s government will fall apart and new elections will have to be held. That could spell an abrupt end to Ms Merkel’s 13-year reign: political observers in Berlin think it unlikely that she would run again.
  • Normal policy just can’t get through in such a situation. The only beneficiary of all the internecine strife was the AfD, which scored 13 per cent in Hesse, more than 8 percentage points more than it won in 2013. It is now represented in all of Germany’s 16 regional parliaments and is the biggest opposition party in the Bundestag.
  • While most of the attention will now be focused on the SPD’s internal wrangling, and Ms Merkel’s position might be assured in the short term, there are still question marks about her future. The CDU is bitterly disappointed with its result in Hesse, and she will come under intense pressure to turn round its fortunes. Some in the party think that will only happen once she exits the stage for good.

Euractiv – Cécile Barbière / European Parliament wants to ban neo-fascist groups

  • Faced with the upsurge in xenophobia in Europe, MEPs want to take firm action against neo-fascist and neo-Nazi groups, which currently benefit from a certain level of discretion in several countries. Xenophobia is fuelled by neo-fascist and neo-Nazi groups in Europe, which should be banned as a matter of urgency, the European Parliament demanded on Thursday (25 October)
  • A resolution adopted by MEPs points out that the lack of serious action against neo-fascist and neo-Nazi groups has enabled the occurrence of the current xenophobic surge in Europe. Notably, attacks motivated by xenophobia include the 2011 shootings in Norway, the murder of British MP Jo Cox and even the recent attack on EMP Eleonara Forenzo by small fascist groups in Italy
  • Another lever for action advocated by MEPs is the fight against online hate speech. The internet is the main vehicle for the dissemination of racist, fascist and xenophobic speech.
  • Sylvie Guillaume, vice-president of the European Parliament, specifically singled out and condemned Génération Identitaire (“Generation Identity”), a French far-right group responsible for several crackdown operations against refugees in recent months, particularly in France. In its latest report published in March, the French National Consultative Commission on Human Rights (CNCDH) considered that the level of racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia were “extremely worrying”.

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces. 

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