Jair Bolsonaro presidential campaign, 2018
Bolsonaro campaign logo.jpg
Campaigned forBrazilian general election, 2018
CandidateJair Bolsonaro
Federal Deputy from Rio de Janeiro
General Hamilton Mourão
Brazilian Army member
AffiliationSocial Liberal Party
Coalition partner
Brazilian Labour Renewal Party
StatusAnnounced: 3 March 2016
Presumptive nominee: 12 March 2018
Official nominee: 22 July 2018
Qualified for run-off: 7 October 2018
Won the election: 28 October 2018
Key peoplePaulo Guedes
(Economic advisor)[1]
ReceiptsBRL 4.150.097,17 [2]
SloganBrasil acima de tudo, Deus acima de todos
(Brazil above everything, God above everyone)[3][4]

The 2018 presidential campaign of Jair Bolsonaro was announced on 3 March 2016. Brazilian federal deputy and former military officer Jair Bolsonaro became the official nominee of the Social Liberal Party during their convention on 22 July 2018. The running mate decision came later on 8 August, when General Hamilton Mourão was chosen to compose the ticket with Bolsonaro. By choosing Mourão as running mate Bolsonaro secured a coalition with the Brazilian Labour Renewal Party.

Jair Bolsonaro was the first candidate for the presidency that was able to raise over a $1 million reais in donations from the public during the 2018 campaign. In the first 59 days, he amassed an average of $17,000 reais per day in donations.[5]

Bolsonaro was stabbed on 6 September while he was campaigning in Juiz de Fora. He recovered, and was the leading candidate in the first round on 7 October, with 46% of the vote.

On 28 October 2018, Bolsonaro won the general election with 55.13% of the popular vote.

Presidential ticket

Social Liberal Party (Brazil)
Social Liberal Party ticket, 2018
Jair Bolsonaro Antônio Hamilton Mourão
for President for Vice President
Jair Bolsonaro (cropped).jpg
Mourão aniversario da constituição (cropped).jpg
Federal Deputy
from Rio de Janeiro
Brazilian Army General

The National Executive Committee of Social Liberal Party, and the National Executive Committee of the Brazilian Labour Renewal Party, elected the candidate for office of vice-president and the National Directory of PSL, elected the candidate to President of republic. Karina Rodrigues Fidelix da Cruz (PRTB), appointed by PRTB, and Gulliem Charles Bezerra Lemos (PSL), appointed by PSL, were the delegates of the coalition. Gustavo Bebiano Rocha was the representative of the slate for the Supreme Electoral Court. Janaína Paschoal refused to be the vice-president candidate together Bolsonaro.[9]

Office Date Candidate Number of Votes % Notes
PSL primaries
President July, 22 Jair Bolsonaro 96[10] 100%
Vice-president August 4 Luiz Philippe of Orléans-Braganza 11[11] 100% Aborted result
PRTB primaries
Vice-president August 5 Hamilton Mourão 26[12] 100%

Campaign background

Before his campaign, Bolsonaro desired that the senator Magno Malta (from the Party of Republic) or Augusto Heleno,(from the Progressive Republican Party) become the vice-president in his slate [13], but their parties did not allow the two of them to compete together.

During his campaign, Bolsonaro has praised the two-decade (1964-1985) military dictatorship in Brazil and has praised foreign autocrats such as Alberto Fujimori of Peru and Augusto Pinochet of Chile.[14] Bolsonaro has promised to give police permission to shoot first and ask questions later.[15] His platform also promotes liberalizing gun laws and repressive tactics against urban criminality and drug trafficking, along with the advocation of rolling back affirmative action for black-Brazilians and reversing legislation which increases sentences for murdering women because of their gender (femicide).[16]

Despite earlier calls for massive policy shifts in environmentalism, Bolsonaro backed away from calls to pull Brazil out of the Paris Agreements, and the elimination of Brazil's Environmental Ministry. However he told international non-profit groups such as the World Wildlife Fund, that he would not allow their agendas in Brazil, strongly protested against lands reserved for indigenous tribes, and plans to expand nuclear and hydroelectric power into the Amazon. [17]

Some supporters of Bolsonaro have compared him to US President Donald Trump, and believe that he, like Trump, will bring the radical change that they feel is needed in response to the "lawlessness" of Brazil, with many nicknaming Bolsonaro "the legend."[18]Steve Bannon (chief executive officer of Trump's 2016 presidential bid) has advised Bolsonaro's campaign.[19][20]

Bolsonaro’s Media Strength Throughout the Campaign

One of the main influences throughout Bolsonaro's campaign was his strength on the social media scenery. With over 4.3 million followers and many support pages on Facebook along with over 400 thousand followers on Instagram, he was one of the candidates with the largest support on social media. When utilizing his platforms throughout the campaign, it was common of him to have daily posts related to army topics and aimed at the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT). However, beyond posts direct posts, he also interacted with a lot of his supporters through posts and replies and even maintained many groups on WhatsApp, where he engaged in conversations with some of his supporters.[21] Although the use of social platforms is an intelligent way of disseminating his political views, he was also facing allegations that some of his important financial supporters illegally used WhatsApp as means to spread fake news about his opponent, Haddad. As a countermeasure, WhatsApp banned thousands of active accounts during the election period, to which Bolsonaro replied “I can’t control it if an entrepreneur who is friendly to me is doing this. I know it’s against the law. But I can’t control it, I have no way of knowing about it and taking measures [to stop it].” [22]

The strength of Bolsonaro's social media actions went beyond his posts and fan base interactions. That is reflected on the fact that most of his followers are extremally active on social media and most of the times their trending conversations ripple through all sorts of media, arriving at radio stations and TV channels, thus reaching older and more isolated parcels of the population who lack access to the internet or other technological means. Further, his supporters are amongst the one that disseminate most content throughout WhatsApp as almost 93% of them claim to have accounts where almost 43% are politically active in the App.[23]

Voter Demographic

When taking a look into Bolsonaro's supporters, people aged between 16 and 34 years old accounted for about 60% of his voters, and from those, almost 30% were 24 years old or younger.[24] Such support can be seen as a consequence of Bolsonaro's strong social media presence, as amongst the Brazilian population that access the internet, 85% are between the ages of 18-24 years old [25]. Furthermore, when considering the ages of the people that voted in this past election, 18-24 years old represent the second most present group 21.15%, followed by people of 45-59 years old with 24.26% of the electorate.[26] Amongst other factors, the use of internet is also reflected on the regional separation of Bolsonaro's voters as the regions of the country that had an overall support for his political party, PSL, are mostly found to be in major urban centers where the access to internet is high, and so is the young population of such areas.[27]

General Public Opinion on Bolsonaro's personality and campaign

For many, Bolsonaro's popularity arose due to his apparent clarity and outspoken personality throughout the campaign. Bolsonaro's speech is often pained with an anti-corruption and anti-violence goal that is supported by most of the population. As a candidate who was not afraid to voice his opinion, even when approaching controversy topics such as race, gender, and socioeconomic status, many considered his honesty as a necessary quality to deal with the corruption scandals that afflicted the country for years along with the country's rising violence percentages.[28] Throughout Bolsonaro's campaign many people expressed their discontent and opinions against him and his political views. Many movements representing women, LGBT community, and others, emerged and progressively gain strength throughout the year as more people gathered and went to the streets or expressed their views in social media.[29] However, while Bolsonaro's opposition grew, so did his supporters and their expressive opinions through social media. An overview into the public opinion of Bolsonaro's supporters shows that people not only like his transparency, but they also support his opposition to the quota system, as well as his strong religious affiliation and speech on corruption.[30]



Attack during campaign event

Bolsonaro being stabbed at a Juiz de Fora rally

Bolsonaro was stabbed on 6 September 2018 while campaigning and interacting with supporters in the city of Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais.[81] Bolsonaro's son, Flávio, has stated that his father's wounds were only superficial and he was recovering in hospital.[82] Police arrested and identified the attacker as Adelio Bispo de Oliveira, who claimed that he was "ordered by God to carry out the attack".[83] Flávio Bolsonaro later stated that the wounds inflicted seem worse than initially thought. He tweeted about his father's condition, explaining that the perforation reached part of the liver, the lung and part of the intestine. He also stated that Bolsonaro had lost a large amount of blood, arriving at the hospital with a pressure of 10/3, but had since stabilized.[84][85][81] Most of the other candidates in the presidential race (from both sides of the political spectrum), and the current Brazilian president, Michel Temer, condemned the attack.[86].

After the end of the elections, Bolsonaro decided to donate the rest of the money collected in the campaign, to the Santa Casa de Misericórdia Hospital, where he got hospital treatment after the assassination attempt.

Protests and rallies


#EleNão (Not him) protest in São Paulo

Hundreds of thousands of women across Brazil staged protests on September 29, against Bolsonaro's candidacy. One protestor told reporters "I'm part of a portion of society that is greatly affected by the types of things [Bolsonaro] says and thinks. This conservative wave, which has really always existed in Brazil, needs to come to an end."[87] Protestors in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia chanted "Ele Não (Not him!)" which has become a slogan to protest Bolsonaro, emphasizing that the groups aims are for the undecided voters to vote "for anyone else, but not him."[15] Many protestors have expressed outrage over past statements by Bolsonaro that homosexuality was equated with paedophilia, and that he once told Congresswoman Maria do Rosario that she wasn’t worth raping, citing these events as reasons to protest his campaign.[88]


Pro-Bolsonaro demonstration in London

There were also rallies in support of the candidate in sixteen states.[89]

Election result

Presidential elections

Election year Candidate First round Second round
# of overall votes % of overall vote # of overall votes % of overall vote
2018 Jair Bolsonaro 49,276,990 46.0 #1 57,774,302 55.15 #1

Party representation