Democracy, DPRK style: North Korea holds ‘election’

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s ruling Workers’ Party has an iron grip on the country, but every five years it holds a so-called election for the rubber stamp legislature, known as the Supreme People’s Assembly. And in keeping with one of Pyongyang’s most enduring slogans — “Single-minded unity” — there is only one approved name on each of the ballot papers.

Why Young People Helped Elect A Far-Right Authoritarian In Brazil (HBO)

On Sunday, Brazilians elected Jair Bolsonaro to the presidency, putting an ultra-right wing authoritarian in charge of the world’s fourth-largest democracy.

His campaign was fueled by a growing movement of right-wing youth, who promoted him relentlessly on WhatsApp and other social media. They grew up under the center-left government of the Worker’s Party, which ruled Brazil from 2003 until 2016, until it effectively collapsed under the weight of economic crisis and political scandal — all of which was successfully exploited by the right.

That means they’re are also too young to remember the military dictatorship that ruled Brazil from 1964 until 1985. Supporting military rule has been the centerpiece of Bolsonaro’s three-decade career in politics, and his young supporters subscribe to his version of history.

“I was born in 1997, so I didn’t live through it,” said Juan Gabriel Rodrigues Silva, a student and activist in Nova Iguaçu, a city north of Rio de Janeiro. “But when you ask normal people who lived their lives and worked, and weren’t out doing bullshit on the streets, all those people say it was the best period of their lives.”

Brazil’s military regime, with help from the United States, made a systematic effort to exterminate the left. It tightly censored the press and the arts, and it tortured, murdered, and exiled thousands. It also helped install and manage even bloodier dictatorships in Chile, Uruguay, and elsewhere in South America. Bolsonaro’s words echo the military regime to this day: One week before the election, he delivered a speech promising a “cleansing” of the left.

“I’m afraid. It makes me very apprehensive that the population doesn’t know it’s history,” said Lucio Bellentani, an autoworker who was arrested in 1972 for belonging to a union at a Volkswagen plant in São Paulo. Bellentani was imprisoned for two years and tortured repeatedly with electric shocks and beatings.

“I think this is worse than the coup in ’64,” Bellentani said. “Why? Because they are taking power through democratic means. They’re using the system they never wanted — using the instruments we fought for — to gain power.”

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Brazil’s Evangelical Far Right Could Elect The Country’s Next President (HBO)

Brazil’s supreme court ruled Wednesday that former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has to start serving a 12-year prison sentence immediately, even while he appeals his conviction for corruption. The ruling effectively knocks him out of this year’s presidential race — which he was leading in every poll.
Lula’s imprisonment sends the Brazilian left even deeper into a long-brewing crisis.
And Operation Car Wash — the sprawling corruption investigation that led to Lula’s conviction — has brought down and implicated high-level politicians by the dozen across the political spectrum. But it’s the right wing that has best taken advantage of the crisis that Car Wash caused, forcing Lula’s center-left Workers Party out of power — and now, with Lula almost certainly out of the way, clearing a path to the presidency.
One of the most powerful drivers in the rise of the Brazilian right is the rapid growth of Evangelical Christianity in a traditionally Catholic country.
Evangelicals have one of the most powerful blocs in the country, and high-profile pastors have the power to direct their congregations toward voting for (and donating to) their anointed candidates. That means the Evangelical machine is in better shape than most heading into this year’s elections — even more so now that Lula, the undisputed center of gravity on the Brazilian left, is effectively out of the way.

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