God, family, homeland: Brazil's Bolsonaro launches new party

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Nov 22 2019 08:17 AM

Brazil's far-right President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday launched a new political party called the Alliance for Brazil, which will put an emphasis on God, family and homeland, as he tries to win back evangelical voters.

"If I had done this sooner, we would have gotten 100 deputies and a senator elected in each state," Bolsonaro said at a formal launch event in a luxury hotel in the capital Brasilia.

It's the ninth time that the 64-year-old Bolsonaro, a former army captain, has changed parties in his three-decade political career.

He just left the ultraconservative Social Liberal Party (PSL), which had been a fringe group until he joined in March 2018.

The PSL profited from the right-wing wave that saw Bolsonaro swept into power -- the party got more than 50 deputies and four senators elected to Congress in the last general election.

Evangelical voters helped propel Bolsonaro to the presidency, but he had fallen out of favor with them. The formation of the Alliance could help him regain the confidence of that key voting bloc.

A giant screen was set up outside the hotel so that several dozen Bolsonaro supporters gathered there, many of them wearing the national colors of green and yellow, could watch the party's launch ceremony.

The Alliance's official Twitter account, which already has more than 150,000 followers, used hashtags in its posts, flagging the words God, family and homeland.

The party's platform prioritizes "respect for God and religion" along with "defending the rights to life, justifiable defense and family." It is anti-abortion, and rejects "socialism and communism."

"Separation of church and state never meant that atheism was obligatory," according to the party platform, which was read out loud by party attorney Karina Kufa.

Bolsonaro is the new party's president, and his eldest son, senator Flavio Bolsonaro, is the vice president.

"Much more than a party, it is the dream and inspiration of those loyal to President Jair Bolsonaro to unite the country around those who believe in the same ideals and patriotic intentions," the party says.

The approval rating of Bolsonaro's government has suffered of late.

The PSL, which had been roiled by internal tensions for weeks, ultimately imploded -- Bolsonaro is hoping that 30 or so lawmakers will leave and join his new Alliance.

The PSL has been accused of nominating mostly female fake candidates in the 2018 general election to divert public funds to its coffers -- a tactic some political parties in Brazil are suspected of using in the past.

The scandal has dogged Bolsonaro, who was elected in large part on a promise to stamp out corruption.

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