Institutions and Marginalization: Defining Voting Behavior in 21st Century Brazil

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by Aleksei Kaminski, 20C African Studies and Economics
2019-2020 Halle/Fox Center Global Research Fellow

My research question was originally to understand why 29% of the LGBTI+ and 45% of black and pardo (multi-racial) communities voted and support President Jair Bolsonaro. Elected in October of 2018, President Bolsonaro has vowed to end racial quotas, decrease funding on social welfare programs, and repeatedly stated vicious and violent homophobic and racist comments. To investigate this phenomenon, the Halle Institute for Global Research funded my time living in Rio de Janeiro and traveling to São Paulo, Brazil.

In Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, I interviewed conservative members of the LGBTI+ and Afro-Brazilian communities in Portuguese and collected survey data from Brazilian university students which include social demographics, political opinions, voting behavior, and the impact of violence on respondents’ lives. However, my research came with certain challenges while spending my days meeting community members and academics in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Many potential interviewees from the LGBTI+ and Afro-Brazilian communities were afraid to speak on their behalf. This challenge led me to interview only four percent of the identified participants. Fear and opposition are now a central component of understanding conservative voting behavior in the LGBTI+ and Afro-Brazilian communities of Brazil. On the other hand, this challenge led me to further examine the life stories of marginalized Brazilians who voted for President Bolsonaro.

As my research evolves, I hope to explain the fundamental role that news broadcasters and leaders in the LGBTI+ and Afro-Brazilian communities can have in relieving political tensions and addressing mutual hopes and political concerns of polarized individuals within such communities.

Aleksei Kaminski is a senior on the pre-law track majoring in African Studies and Economics. He is currently writing senior honors thesis, “Institutions and Marginalization in Brazil – A Discourse in Shifting Voting Behavior”, the discourse in shifting political attitudes towards populism and authoritarianism amongst marginalized communities in Brazil. Aleksei conducted his research during the summer of 2019 in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Brazil creating online survey polls and interviewing academics and conservative members of the LGBTQ+ and Afro-Brazilian communities. His thesis explores the context of  inequality, sexuality, religion, and racism in 21st century Brazilian politics following the election of current President Jair Bolsonaro.

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