LAC Main Seminar Series: 'A tale full of sound and fury, signifying nothing': Brazil's foreign policy under Bolsonaro

Conveners: David Doyle and Javier Pérez Sandoval, University of Oxford

Speaker: Dawisson Belém Lopes, LAC and Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) 


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Abstract: Far-right populist leaders often take office promising a revolution in policies. They project themselves as counterpoints to other political competitors and defend radical positions regarding a set of issues. These contents may include nationalistic–chauvinistic measures, antienvironmental attitudes, conservative postures toward human rights, and religious leaning. According to our framework, though, leaders will only be able to pursue sharp foreign policy changes in pluralistic societies if, first, they win internal disputes at policymaking venues. Second, some policies will depend on external support or, at least, the non-imposition of unsurmountable obstacles. An acute foreign policy change may occur if such “battles” are won—home and abroad. Otherwise, a few incremental and superficial shifts are the maximum outcomes these leaders can get. A within-case study on Bolsonaro's Brazil provides useful evidence for our argument.


dawisson belem lopes

Dawisson Belém Lopes is a Professor of International and Comparative Politics at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) and a Research Fellow of the National Council for Technological and Scientific Development (CNPq) in Brazil. From 2018 to 2022, he served as UFMG's Deputy Dean for International Affairs. Having authored/edited ten books and dozens of peer-reviewed articles on topics related to Latin American politics, Brazilian foreign policy, and international institutions, Professor Lopes previously was a visiting researcher at the German Institute for Global and Area Studies in Hamburg, (Germany, 2013), visiting professor at the Catholic University of Louvain in Mons (Belgium, 2016), Raisina Young Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi (India, 2017) and SUSI Scholar on Foreign Policy at the University of Delaware (USA, 2021). He has already given lectures at the invitation of 7 national governments and the UN, and delivered presentations or published his articles in 30 different countries. Dawisson Belém Lopes tweets at @dbelemlopes.