The question now is, how did we get to the stage where this proposition leads the polls
[What follows is my translation of a column by Celso Rocha de Barros, published today, 17 September, in Folha de S. Paulo. As the author commented on Twitter, “someone needed to say out lout what everyone already knows” – that is, that there is now a real risk of a military coup should Bolsonaro win, or should he lose…]
Well, this is it, friends. If you want to vote for Bolsonaro, enjoy it, because it will be your last. After the past week, there is no longer any doubt that the Bolsonaro plan is to mount a coup. And a real coup, a hard coup, not one of those soft coups that you get these days.
Let’s be honest, there was never any reason to suspect that Jair Bolsonaro was a democrat. I have never seen an interview in which Bolsonaro promises to honor the results of the election after defeat. What I have seen many times were disingenuous insinuations about electronic voting machines.
Bolsonaro argued for increasing the number of Supreme Court justices, which is on page 2 of the dictator’s manual. Chavez did it, the military dictatorship did it, every dictator does it. At the end of the day, the Constitution is what the Supreme Court says it is. If you fill the Supreme Court with brown-nosers, the Constitution becomes whatever you want it to be. From there on in, you are a dictator.
Bolsonaro chose as his running-mate [retired army general] Hamilton Mourão. In a recent interview with GloboNews, Mourão argued that the president of the Republic (any president? An eventual president Boulos [of the radical-left Party of Socialism and Liberty]?) has the right to mount an ‘auto-coup’ if they think the situation is becoming anarchic.
In truth, no one has more capacity to create anarchy than the president themselves. For this reason, no sensible country lets the president become a dictator if they think there is too much anarchy.
The same Mourão now argues for a new Constitution to be written, without all the pussyfooting involvement of people actually elected by the population.
The Constitution would be written by a council of notables; “notables” is what a dictator calls his own brown-nosers.
According to Mourão’s plan, this Constitution would then have to be approved by referendum. Nothing against referenda, but if you follow the news about Venezuela, you can already see where this leads. When they come to hold the referendum, the opposition will already have been attacked and weakened, and the population will vote with fear. This is on page 3 of the dictator’s manual.
So, that’s it. If you are in favor of all of this, vote for Bolsonaro. If not, vote for someone else.
It just remains to be asked: how did we get to the stage where the proposal to kill democracy leads polls with nearly one-quarter of voting intentions?
Over the past years, public opinion in Brazil has gained a lot of power. Lava Jato [massive anti-corruption investigations] showed the population that corruption was generalized. Social media allowed for indignation to be expressed with ferocity.
The good side of this obvious. Politicians kind of have to live in fear of the population.
The bad side is that it has not been easy to govern the country, because the moment demands that many unpopular things be done.
The Bolsonaro plan is to use your rage against all and sundry and turn it against democracy. Without democracy, governing the country becomes easy once again, because the government no longer needs to care about you or your social media.
This trick is on page 1 of the dictator’s manual. And when you can’t complain anymore, can’t impeach anyone, can’t moan on Facebook or hold a protest, then Paulo Guedes [Bolsonaro economic advisor and the candidate’s pick for Finance Minster] enters the scene with his austerity program that is much more radical than any other candidate’s. And then you can be sure, you won’t have money to buy any guns at all, even if the shops are allowed to sell them.