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

Updated 22 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Axios-Ipsos poll: Federal response has only gotten worse — The swing states where the pandemic is raging.
  2. Health: The coronavirus is starting to crush some hospitals — 13 states set single-day case records last week.
  3. Business: Winter coronavirus threat spurs new surge of startup activity.
  4. Media: Pandemic causes cable and satellite TV providers to lose the most subscribers ever.
  5. States: Nearly two dozen Minnesota COVID cases traced to 3 Trump campaign events.
  6. World: Unrest in Italy as restrictions grow across Europe.

Ted Cruz defends GOP's expected return to prioritizing national debt

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told "Axios on HBO" on Monday that he wishes reining in the national debt was a higher priority for President Trump.

Why it matters: Trump pledged during the 2016 campaign to reduce the national debt and eliminate it entirely within eight years, though he also deemed himself "the king of debt" and said there were some priorities that required spending. In the fiscal year that ended in September, the deficit reached a record $3.1 trillion.

Federal judge blocks DOJ from defending Trump in Carroll rape defamation case

E. Jean Carroll in Warwick, New York. Photo: Eva Deitch for The Washington Post via Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed the Justice Department's attempted intervention on behalf of President Trump in writer E. Jean Carroll's defamation lawsuit against him, after she accused him of raping her in a dressing room in the mid-1990s.

Catch up quick: The agency argued that Trump was "acting within the scope of his office" as president when he said in 2019 that Carroll was "lying" about her claim.