Populist rulers cannot lose elections

Populist rulers face a dilemma. Since they embody “the people” and realize the “will of the people”, they cannot lose elections. People cannot vote against themselves. my Independent review The article “The Impossibility of Populism” explains this in more detail. But here is a current paradigm.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro faces the same dilemma as Donald Trump: There is a good chance he will lose the upcoming presidential election in October. So what will he do? Something similar to what Trump did in both 2016 and 2020: he warned his followers in advance that if he lost, it meant the election was rigged. Economist Explained (“Could Jair Bolsonaro be trying to steal Brazil’s election?” July 14, 2022):

[Mr. Bolsonaro] Sowing doubts about the electoral process. He told supporters that he can only be defeated if the competition is rigged. This suggests that he may dispute the results if he loses. …

On July 7, Mr. Bolsonaro signaled to Mr. Fauchin [the president of the electoral court] “Already know” the results of the election. He made such a push by insisting that Brazil’s electronic-voting system is susceptible to fraud. This system has been used in Brazil since 1996 with no evidence of irregularities. …

His opponents fear that if the vote is close, he may claim that he was robbed of the victory and try to cling on in bad ways.

Supporters of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro protest on Labor Day in Natal. May 2, 2022, Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil Credit: Jose Aldenir/TheNews2 (Photo: Jose Aldenir/The News2/Deposit Photo)

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