Why Brazilians protest against the World Cup
by Harald Czycholl
An emerging power with a booming economy, a democratically elected leader, and rising influence: In the last years, Brazil, host of the 2014 soccer World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, was often seen as a role model. President Dilma Roussev even developed ambitions on a global level, joining in a diplomatic attempt to negotiate a deal with Iran on its nuclear program.
But now the wind has turned: At the beginning of the World Cup and in the months before, the streets have filled with thousands of angry demonstrators. Economic prosperity has turned into popular unrest. Many of the demonstrators are those who profited most from their countries’ takeoff: Young, middle-class people. What has happened?
Brazil’s government has shown disregard for the people and signs of arrogance due to past successes. Rousseff’s Workers’ Party has budgeted billions for the World Cup and the Olympics, while public services such as education and public transportation remain on a very basic level. These are also symptoms of poor democratic development: Democratic control of the governments’s decisions does not take place. Opposition parties are weak and fail to offer plausible alternatives.
Also, the government is making a major mistake in its reaction to the protests: Instead of listening to the concerns of the demonstrators, violence is being employed against them by military police. But still, the protests offer a chance for the Brazil’s future: They might ultimately strengthen democracy. The people have raised their voices and made clear that they don’t accept every decision of their government. The civil society in Brazil is on the rise.