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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

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Updated 6 hours ago - Technology

A dark view of the future of autonomous weapons

A still from the video "If Human: Kill ( )." Image: Future of Life Institute

A new short film warns of the coming risks posed by the development and proliferation of lethal autonomous weapons.

Why it matters: Drones with the ability to autonomously target and kill without the assistance of a human operator are reportedly already being used on battlefields, and time is running out to craft a global ban of what could be a destabilizing and terrifying new class of weapon.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus variant surveillance varies widely by state — Omicron cases confirmed in 5 U.S. states America probably won't lead the effort to understand Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Moderna loses patent battles tied to COVID vaccine — Pfizer could have vaccine data for children under five by end of 2021, CEO says.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate — Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come.
  4. World: WHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming — Germany approves new restrictions for unvaccinated people.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Updated 11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Prosecutors charge parents of Michigan school shooting suspect

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The parents of a 15-year-old accused of killing four students and wounding seven other people at a Michigan high school have been charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter, according to court documents.

The latest: Lawyers for James and Jennifer Crumbley told the Detroit News they are "returning to the area to be arraigned," after law enforcement officials announced a search for the Crumbleys had been initiated.