Brazilian academics are hesitant about changes in science after this month’s presidential election
All polls indicate President Jair Bolsonaro, who has been on a “war against science”, will lose.
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According to Times Higher Education, since 2019, when he became president, Jair Bolsonaro has reduced funding for Brazil’s federal universities to levels not seen since 2005. The Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation budget has also been cut by more than 50% since 2013. Those cuts have left many institutions struggling to pay for basic services such as electricity, water and internet.
However, the Bolsonaro government is expected to end in the upcoming months. Considered one of the country’s most important elections in years, the first round of voting will be on Oct. 2nd and predictions say he is likely to lose to his rival, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Known as Lula, the leftist former president is staging a comeback after corruption charges against him were dropped.
Brazilian academics are hopeful but realistic with the possible upcoming changes. They know that even if Lula wins, he will face difficulties due to the economic situation the country is in after the most recent crisis.
As president between 2002 and 2010, Lula oversaw many initiatives to improve quality and access to Brazilian higher education. Even if predictions confirm and he defeats President Bolsonaro, Brazil’s economy won’t be booming like it was when he was the president; making it difficult for him to implement science incentive measures.
The politically divided country situation in which Brazil finds itself now will also not make it easy for the possible new president to make changes. Many Brazilian scientists, for example, were subjected to death threats — especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. President Bolsonao's septic response to the health crisis that has happened since 2020 contributed to undermining the scientific community in the eyes of the public.
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