Peace, Conflict, Crime & Violence Workshop

Comp Politics Workshop - No Country for Criminals: Understanding Support for Iron Fist Candidates in Brazil


A Comparative Politics Workshop session with Jake Turner, Kellogg Doctoral Student Affiliate, Department of Political Science

"No Country for Criminals: Understanding Support for Iron Fist Candidates in Brazil"


In 2018, Brazil elected Jair Bolsonaro, a relatively unknown politician who ran on a platform of anti-corruption, evangelism, and aggressive anti-crime rhetoric including a notorious phrase that came to define his campaign, “bandito bom é bandito morto” (the only good criminal is a dead criminal). One important feature of Bolsonaro's candidacy and his subsequent government has been his connection with the security forces and other specialists in violence. Not only is Bolsonaro himself a former captain in the Brazilian army, but his vice president Hamilton Mourão was a general, and pro-Bolsonaro factions in congress are populated with former military and police. This blurring of lines between elected officials, state security agents, and armed non-state actors is a familiar phenomenon in the Americas from the "hybrid state'' of Jamaica (Jaffe, 2013) to the "gray zone of criminality'' identified between drug cartels and the security sector in Mexico (Trejo and Ley, 2018). However, there remains much to be learned about how these relationships function in the electoral arena and when security sector candidates are most likely to enter government. This pre-analysis plan details a conjoint experiment to be fielded in Brazil that will explore why voters support military and police officers for elected office, teasing out the independent effects of security sector connections, criminal justice policies, and other ideological appeals on vote choice. I propose that candidates with police and military backgrounds have a comparative advantage projecting an image of a decisive leader unafraid to work outside of the established rules, attracting support independent of their criminal justice policy stances.

Comparative Politics Workshop 
The Comparative Politics Workshop is a graduate student-led forum geared towards presenting and discussing papers and research projects. During the academic semester, regular sessions are held at the Hesburgh Center. These meetings are open to everyone, particularly students, faculty and Kellogg Institute Visiting Fellows. Participants have the chance to present their work and receive valuable, constructive feedback from their colleagues. 
More information: Contact Comparative Politics Field Representative Bill Kakenmaster

Speakers / Related People
Jacob Turner

Jacob Turner is a PhD student in the Department of Political Science and is currently a research affiliate of the Kellogg Institute's Notre Dame Violence and Transitional Justice Lab (V-TJLab)...
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