What will happen to democracy?
Bolsonaro beats polls and expectations in Brazil. He still enjoys the preference of 43 % of the population. Lula failed to win in the first round with 48 %. He almost certainly will win during the second round. But many of Bolsonaro’s candidates did well for congress as well.
Bolsonarism hasn’t been crushed. More importantly, he kept up his talk of rejecting the election results till the election. Some business leaders turned out to have been open to a coup. Better than Lula.
Bolsonaro’s momentum has not been completely crushed in the first round. His supporters are solidified.
Bolsonaro is mostly quite now though. He has not raved day after day since the first round, though he did appear to question the computer system again. His supporters are quite. Too quite.
With Bolsonaro having clearly set the stage for a possible coup, with radical rhetoric, attacks on the voting system, appointing hardliners to key positions such as the ministry of defense, and the arming of his supporters, will he now suddenly go quietly? Will the army tolerate the return of Lula, after some had a role in threating the Supreme Federal Court to accept his jailing?
Bolsonaro’s support lies with much of the rank and file in the army and the military police. The regular federal police and higher generals are more moderate. But since he has made sure to appoint strong supporters as head of the federal police, minister of the defense and so on, the question is whether the regular police or the generals would interfere when the military police and middle officers and soldiers support a coup adventure from Bolsonaro.
Bolsonaro’s anti-democratic remarks got so strong that Bolsonaro’s first minister of defense Fernando Azevedo e Silva resigned/got replaced over it. In solidarity the 3 heads of the army, navy and air force had resigned also. If all these people had opposed Bolsonaro more subtly, they would be around to oppose a self-coup now, the way Kissinger and Haig did with Nixon’s dream of a self-coup during Watergate.
Instead, Bolsonaro got to appoint Walter Braga Netto as the new minister of defense who supported his attacks against the electoral system and he got to appoint 3 new heads for the army branches to boot. Now he has made Netto his running mate and made the man he had previously appointed as new head of the army, Paulo Sérgio Nogueira de Oliveira, his third minister of defense. Oliveira also appears a hardliner.
He replaced the director of the federal police, and replaced his minister of justice and public security Sergio Moro for opposing his political interference with the police. The softies and semi-democrats got removed from these key ministries and control over the federal police long before this election. They cannot stop a coup now.
Marco Antônio Freire Gomes, the new head of the army, might turn out to be very important. He has attacked supposed fake news against the army at an event with Bolsonaro, where Bolsonaro didn’t speak. But he wasn’t clear about the exact attacks and spoke of the need for a strong army and the role of the army in securing elections. Was it a veiled defense of the army’s role in the democratic system under any government? Or very soft coup talk?
This is what Brazil has come to, a self-coup by Bolsonaro, vs. The democratic return of the Brazilian Chavez.