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OPINION

Brazil banking: Political risk

Campaigning for October’s presidential election has yet to officially start in Brazil, but it is expected to be bitter – and the risks of political fall out for Brazilian banks have already become all too clear.

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In June, digital bank  XP Inc published and then quickly removed from its website its latest opinion poll, which showed president Jair Bolsonaro languishing behind rival and ex-president Lula. XP’s survey showed Lula enjoying a double-digit lead, with 45% against Bolsonaro’s 34%.

However, local journalists noted the publication – and the subsequent deletion – of XP’s polling research. The bank declined to comment on the reason behind its decision to remove the results from its website, but it didn’t take long for Brazilian social media to jump to its own conclusions.

Local journalists noted the publication – and the subsequent deletion – of XP’s polling research

The internet quickly erupted, with the hashtag "Libera a pesquisa XP" (Release the XP research) attached to a flood of memes, including one of an XP banker – replete in his Faria Lima/XP puffer waistcoat and clipboard – replying to a survey respondent that they would have to change the response they were giving if it were to be included.

Beyond the mirth there was the sense of brand damage. One prominent comedian posted: “If XP can’t be trusted with its own research, imagine with your money?”

Perhaps the strangest aspect of this episode is that XP’s results were actually some of the better ones for Bolsonaro – he is 20 points behind in other rival polling.

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