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Fed Up With Corruption, Fresh Faces Take On Brazil’s Political Old Guard

This year’s campaign “is just the beginning of the political renewal, not the end,” said Ilona Szabó, an academic and co-founder of Agora. “There will be more than one electoral cycle.”

With nearly 30 percent of Brazilians saying they will cast a blank ballot in October’s election, the time would seem ripe for political newcomers at the presidential level as well. But so far, no one has jumped in. Two potential contenders, Brazil’s first black Supreme Court justice, Joaquim Barbosa, and a television celebrity, Luciano Huck, both pulled out of the race before campaigning even started.

The two factions that have disputed the presidential election for the last three decades, the leftist Workers’ Party and the more conservative Social Democracy Party, have both been crippled by the corruption scandal.

Fed Up With Corruption, Fresh Faces Take On Brazil’s Political Old Guard
Fed Up With Corruption, Fresh Faces Take On Brazil’s Political Old Guard

That has left a far-right candidate, Jair Bolsonaro, a former Army captain accused of inciting racial hatred, as the candidate with the most support in polls. Yet, he also has one of the highest disapproval ratings among Brazilian politicians.

According to Ms. Szabó, one of the biggest deterrents to outsiders competing for the presidency is the deal making traditionally employed by candidates to forge alliances among the big parties. Those arrangements have historically fueled Brazil’s culture of systemic corruption.

“It wouldn’t be possible to compete for the presidency without being vulnerable to being co-opted,” Ms. Szabó said.

Ordinary voters are starting to pay attention to those running without any ties to the politics of the past. Filipe Nogueira Consoline, 33, a music producer in São Paulo, says he is gravitating toward the new candidates.

“I follow them on the internet, especially to compare what they have to say compared with politicians on TV,” he said. “It’s about leaving corruption behind, but also looking for something fresh, not the same old, white men as always.”

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