Brazil: the return of the imperial monarchy?

On September 7, 2022, in the middle of the presidential campaign, Brazil commemorated the bicentenary of its independence. With great fanfare. In the grandstand, alongside Jair Bolsonaro, a man is all smiles at the spectacle before him. Dom Bertrand d’Orléans-Braganza is the descendant of the Brazilian emperors who reigned between 1822 and 1889. He is at the head of the monarchist movement which acts as a constant shadow behind the outgoing leader and which gradually imposed itself throughout the first mandate of the latter. Today, he is working for his re-election.

In June 2022, São Paulo hosted an innocuous congress. Gathered in a hotel in the capital of the state of the same name, hundreds of people gathered to welcome distinguished guests. Facing the central stand, a flag in the colors of the Brazilian Empire. Brazil has known only two emperors, Dom Pedro I and Dom Pedro II, with different styles, but whose reigns (between 1822 and 1889) marked the subconscious of the inhabitants of this South American country, the largest from the continent. Upon entering the hotel’s meeting room, Dom Bertrand of Orléans-Braganza, heir to the throne, is warmly applauded by the participants. All are convinced that the evils of Brazil will vanish with the return of the monarchy.

At 81, the heir to the throne can rejoice in the results achieved. With the coming to power of President Jair Bolsonaro, it was his conservative ideas that triumphed in Brazil and penetrated the highest political spheres of the country. In the shadow of the thundering far-right leader, Olavo de Carvalho, an essayist who has become a reference among traditionalists. Considered the government’s guru, he regularly denounces the “one thought of the left” and cultural Marxism in the country’s media and universities. Rejecting the Darwinist theory of evolution, he is the one who favored the appointment of Abraham Weintraub, Minister of Education (2019-2020,) and Ernesto Araujo, Minister of Foreign Affairs (2019-2021), two notorious monarchists. The latter even organized a meeting, a few days after his appointment, with the pretender to the throne and some elected members of parliament committed to his cause. Olavo de Carvalho, who is also a staunch supporter of the return of the monarchy, did not hesitate to proclaim in 2016 on his Twitter account that he “would stand with the imperial house if it fights for restoration”.

The 2017 general elections marked the return of monarchists to parliament. Among which the nephew of the pretender to the throne, Prince Luiz-Philippe of Orléans-Braganza, a time tipped to take the vice-presidency of the government. Non-dynast, he is currently considered the dolphin of Jair Bolsonarao with whom he appears regularly. The descendant of Dom Pedro II is a passionate monarchist and at the origin of a draft constitution commissioned by the Brazilian president himself, where we find in good place the possibility of restoring the monarchy. A tireless parliamentarian, he tweets as quickly as he instagrams, followed by hundreds of thousands of people on social networks, which he nevertheless distrusts. Moreover, this nationalist did not hesitate to sign an association agreement with the former American president, Donald Trump, and accepted a post of financial director within a new group, born from the merger of Digital World Acquisition Group, Trump Media and Technology Group, which gave birth to the social network Truth Social. The prince’s targets: left-wing parties in South America and former President Lula da Silva, who will face Bolsonaro in the second round of the presidential election scheduled for October 30.

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The parliamentary monarchist group has 15 deputies, elected under various political colors, who displayed themselves with an imperial flag, and who even succeeded in imposing it as a national emblem in the State of Rondônia. So much so, that a petition (having obtained the required quorum) was vainly submitted to the Senate so that the chamber agrees to validate the establishment of a referendum on the restoration of the monarchy. A question that was already posed to Brazilians in 1993, but which only received 13% of the votes in favor. A failure for the imperial house, mainly explained by deep internal divisions and the maneuvers of the republican parties which banded together to pull the rug out from under the feet of the monarchists when the polls showed themselves largely in favor of the monarchical idea (today today, we talk about 20% of Brazilians who would like the return of an “imperador”). A royalist group persists as some of them were re-elected in the last legislative election in October 2022. They will sit alongside Bolsonaro’s Liberal Party (a few of whom are notable members, such as journalist Carla Zambelli, monarchist pasionaria) and their allies who still dominate Congress and the Senate.

Faced with this continuing success, Dom Bertrand wants to be confident in the future. On the sidelines of his meeting with the elected representatives of the Republic at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he declared to the press “to have found interlocutors who share his positions, in complete harmony”. Francophone, the Prince Imperial is the coordinator and spokesperson of Paz no campo (Peace in the fields), a movement which defends the landowners against the “landless” and the Indians of whom he wishes the general evangelization. A member of the ultra-Catholic Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) movement which rejects the spirit of 1789, Dom Bertrand is an opponent of marriage for all. He also took part in the French rallies of the Manif’ pour tous in 2013, considering “homosexuality as deviance as Catholic doctrine perceives it”wishing for the abolition of divorce (he is a confirmed bachelor) and the end of the right to abortion… Author of a very controversial book, entitled Ambientalista Psicosis (Environmentalist Psychosis), this former air force reservist, very familiar with military circles (in the 1980s, they offered a crown to his father), regularly denounces theses on global warming, “those hoaxes created by radical environmentalists and eco-terrorists” according to him.

Theses and positions that echo the comments made on various occasions by Jair Bolsonaro. Received at the presidential palace on August 22, Dom Bertrand of Orléans-Braganza was a guest of honor, installed in the presidential gallery, for the festivities of the bicentenary of independence. A proximity that is not yet unanimous within the imperial house. Some of its members publicly deplore this support for Bolsonaro, believing that this lack of neutrality is counterproductive for the monarchical idea and that the mixing of genres will not allow the restoration of the imperial institution in the short term.

Brazil: the return of the imperial monarchy?