The results of the first round of Brazil’s presidential election are in—and while far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro fell short of the necessary majority with 48% of the vote, he’d heading into the second round on Oct. 28 with a strong advantage. On Sunday’s Last Week Tonight, John Oliver explained why the world should be worried about the prospect of a Bolsonaro presidency.
Brazil is home to over 200 million people, and it’s the fifth-largest country on Earth. Analysts have said that this year’s election is a powder keg that could destabilize the country and potentially the entire Latin American region, as well as herald a decline in one of the world’s largest democracies. As Oliver explains, Brazilians are struggling to recover from the worst recession in their country’s history, and the crime rate has skyrocketed. The situation is so dire in Rio de Janeiro that, in one video clip, an expert tells Vice that 30% of Rio residents have been caught in at least one crossfire in the past year. But Bolsonaro’s main plan to tackle urban violence is to ease restrictions on gun ownership and authorize more police use of lethal force, measures that analysts say will only make the country less safe.
So the stakes are high for Brazilians. As Oliver explains, “There’s a very real chance they’re about to elect a dangerous ideologue, with potentially disastrous consequences.” But as Quartz has previously written, Brazilians are disenchanted with their options: Bolsonaro’s opponent, Fernando Haddad, is associated with the corruption scandals that have rocked the center-left Workers’ Party.
Oliver says Brazilians should not hesitate to vote for the lesser of two evils. “The only nice thing you can say for him [Bolsonaro] is that he has not been implicated in a corruption investigation yet,” he explains. “Unfortunately, that’s literally the only nice thing I can possibly find to say about him, because he is a terrible human being.” He goes on to explain that Bolsonaro is a “extreme far-right conservative” who has called for “some psychotically strong law enforcement,” and has made homophobic, racist, and sexist comments throughout his political career.
Oliver finishes his segment with a direct appeal to Brazilians: “It isn’t too late. Brazil, please, I realize that you are disgusted with your politics at the moment, and you’re not inspired by any of the alternatives, but anything is better than Bolsonaro.”