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Just 17% of Brazilians have confidence in the country's national government and 77% believe corruption is rampant, according to a Gallup poll conducted ahead of an Oct. 7 presidential election that has seen a far-right crusader emerge as the frontrunner.

Expand chart
Adapted from Gallup World Poll; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Why it matters: The sputtering recovery from a 2014 recession and a series of massive corruption scandals have eroded public faith in Brazil's leaders — paving the way for Jair Bolsonaro, who has been called the "Trump of the Tropics," to secure a leading 28% of the vote in the latest polls. Even if Bolsonaro is ultimately defeated in a run-off, the political crisis in Latin America's largest country appears likely to rumble on.

The big picture: Brazil's last three presidents have been plagued by corruption scandals.

  • 2003-2011: Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who has been barred from running for office despite maintaining widespread popularity in Brazil, began serving a 12-year sentence in April for corruption and money laundering.
  • 2011-2016: Dilma Rouseff was impeached and removed from office in 2016 after being swept up in the same scandal that took down Lula. When she came to power in 2011, 51% of Brazilians said they had confidence in their national government.
  • 2016-present: Former vice president Michel Temer, who succeeded Rousseff after her removal, survived an impeachment vote over corruption claims in August 2017.

The state of play: Bolsonaro, known during his seven terms in congress primarily for his history of offensive comments, has followed the populist playbook to a T — exploiting voter frustrations by vowing to rescue Brazil from its economic despair and purge the government of its criminality with his "military values." He's facing Fernando Haddad, who belongs to the same party as Lula and Rouseff but has little charisma and, at the moment, limited support.

Go deeper

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NASA's Mars helicopter is a test for the future of space exploration

Ingenuity (left) with Perseverance on Mars. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA is set to fly the first test flight of its tiny Ingenuity helicopter on Mars Sunday, marking the advent of drones for space exploration.

Why it matters: If successful, this flight will be the first time a human-built aircraft has flown on a world other than Earth, opening the door to new means of exploring planets far from our own.

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1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

The global future is looking dark and stormy

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

A new 20-year-forecast for the world: increasingly fragmented and turbulent.

The big picture: A major report put out this week by the National Intelligence Council reflects a present rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic. How the next two decades will unfold depends largely on whether new technologies will ultimately unite us — or continue to divide us.

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Rep. Gaetz declares he's "not going anywhere" amid sex trafficking probe

Rep. Matt Gaetz. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) doubled down Friday night, saying he's not "going anywhere," and vowing, "I have not yet begun to fight," amid a federal investigation into sex trafficking allegations.

What he's saying: “I’m built for the battle, and I’m not going anywhere,” Gaetz, who denies the allegations, said during a Women for America First event at the Trump National Doral Miami resort.