SAO PAULO, Brazil — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro tweeted a sexually explicit video of a man touching himself late Tuesday night at a street party during Carnival, a nationwide festival known as the country’s biggest party.
The tweet, intended to draw outrage at how vulgar the holiday has become, quickly ignited a firestorm from critics who questioned the president’s judgment in sharing such a graphic video.
“I’m not comfortable showing this, but we have to expose the truth so that the population can have this knowledge and decide on its priorities,” Bolsonaro tweeted. The video shows a man on top of an awning, dancing above a crowd. He touches his anus and then another man urinates on him.
The backlash was swift against Bolsonaro, who has enjoyed considerable support from the country’s right wing, including evangelicals. Several users reported Bolsonaro to Twitter, which prohibits the publication of videos depicting sexual acts. Some users went so far as to demand that the president be impeached for violating a Brazilian law prohibiting officials from “acting in a way that is incompatible with the dignity, honor, and decorum of the office.”
The president didn’t stop there. “What is a golden shower?” he posted the next morning, referencing the act of urinating on another person. On Wednesday morning, #goldenshowerpresident and #impeachbolsonaro were trending on Twitter.
Once a fringe, right-wing politician, Bolsonaro was propelled to office last year through a social-media-heavy campaign that tapped into voter frustration with establishment politicians. He has long shunned traditional news conferences in favor of speaking directly to his base on Twitter, not unlike President Trump, whom Bolsonaro has said he admires.
Now as president, his off-the-cuff comments have become a political liability to cabinet members and allies in Congress, who scramble to play down his remarks.
Last week, the president jeopardized pension reform negotiations crucial to Brazil’s economic recovery when he told reporters at a breakfast meeting that he would be willing to lower the age at which women could retire, contradicting his economic minister’s long-standing position in the debate and irking his congressional allies.
Brazil’s stock market fell nearly 2 percent on the news, and Bolsonaro’s cabinet decided to limit the president’s ability to speak on the topic, according to local reports.
That same week, he revoked a job offer his justice minister had extended to political scientist Ilona Szabó after receiving backlash from his supporters on Twitter.
Szabó, an expert on crime and policing, had been offered a position on Bolsonaro’s commission for crime policy and penal reform. Right-wing groups on Twitter argued that her history of left-leaning stances had no place in Bolsonaro’s government.
Bolsonaro’s opposition in Congress has seized upon these decisions to argue that he is unfit for office.
“Bolsonaro’s tweets are, from start to finish, incompatible with the position he occupies. A president has the obligation to act with a minimum amount of decorum. He shows a lack of poise and responsibility. He is completely out of touch with reality. It is unacceptable.”