Military are placed in the heart of the extreme right in Brazil

RIO DE JANEIRO – With two weeks to go before the presidential elections, extreme right-wing activists keep stalking the barracks, calling for a coup, but without moving public opinion, which is more interested in the direction of the new government of Brazil.

The truck drivers and radical supporters of outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro who caused partial or total blockades in nearly a thousand highway points, in the days following the presidential elections of October 30, gradually demobilized as of the fourth day, but the protests persist. in front of the barracks.

Thousands of Bolsonaristas demonstrated in almost the entire country on November 2, the Day of the Dead, to demand a “federal intervention”, that is, by the Armed Forces, in the face of alleged fraud in the vote count of the second round of elections, in which the victory of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva frustrated the re-election of far-right Bolsonaro.

In some major military units, protesters camped out in the vicinity, attempting to annul the election result and promote a coup. The extreme right in Brazil has as its main reference the military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985.

In front of the General Headquarters of the Army, in Brasilia, there are hundreds of activists sometimes supported by occasional demonstrators. On November 9 they received the reinforcement of 115 trucks, parked nearby.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Defense, retired General Paulo Sergio de Oliveira, released the same day a critical report on the evaluation of the electoral process, made by a specialized team of the Armed Forces since the first round on October 2.

“No fraud or inconsistency was noted in the electronic ballot boxes” and in the count, the president of the Superior Electoral Court, Alexandre de Moraes, also a judge of the Federal Supreme Court, was ready to say after receiving the report.

Military ambiguity encourages coup plotters

But General Oliveira highlighted two “vulnerabilities” in the electoral system, and not the conclusion that the absence of fraud was proven, when disclosing the military study.

The military specialists did not have access to the source code, where there may be “relevant risk for the security of the process” and the electronic system is not fully protected from “the influence of a possible malicious code,” the general stressed.

In this way, the defense minister leaves a door open, albeit based on suppositions, for the president’s supporters to question the elections. That is the fuel of the protests that are directed exactly at the military as a last resort in the struggle for political power.

The mobilization of the most radical Bolsonarists does not seem to have the slightest chance of success. A large part of the 58.1 million votes that Bolsonaro obtained, 49.1% of the valid votes in the second round, are from the right without dictatorial intent, fueled by convictions against the leftist or against Lula involved in corruption scandals during his government from 2003 to 2010.

From the extreme right, important leaders, such as outgoing Vice President Hamilton Mourão, a retired general and elected senator, acknowledge the electoral defeat. Bolsonaro also admitted it, but without explicitly declaring it and maintaining suspicions about the electronic ballot boxes that were always the target of his attacks.

Brazil has used these ballot boxes since 1996, with no record of any proven fraud. The security and efficiency of the system are internationally recognized and allow the result to be known in a few hours after the voting closes.

His credibility, which only began to be questioned by Bolsonaro after his victory in his election to the presidency in 2018, makes it difficult to repeat, in Brazil, the tactic of former President Donald Trump of the United States, of denying defeat in 2020 and being believed. by most Americans.

Brazil’s president-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva emotionally speaks to legislators and their supporters in Brasilia on November 10, on the government’s transition process. A team of more than 50 political leaders and specialists draw up the policies for the next government, which will take office on January 1, and negotiate the transfer of command and information with the outgoing government. Photo: Lula Marques-Public Photos

government of national unity

Oblivious to the far-right maneuvers, Lula, as president-elect, accelerates the preparation of a government that he tries to give the character of national unity, with a transition team made up of representatives of 14 parties, economists from different currents and various specialists in areas such as health, education and agriculture.

This tends to isolate the extreme right, an effect already expected by the usual adhesion of the so-called “Centrón” or great center, a group of center and center-right parties that usually support the government, regardless of their ideological bias.

But Lula made clear his desire to expand the coalition to the maximum, in the face of the threat of a Congress that slipped further to the right, with the election of dozens of extremist deputies and senators, following the example of the general vice president and ten former ministers of the Bolsonaro government. .

The breadth of the democratic front that was put together in the electoral campaign and was expanded in that government transition also creates difficulties, especially in the economy. Lula and his left-wing Workers’ Party are known for their social priorities, to the detriment of fiscal austerity.

That scares orthodox economists and the financial market.

The dollar rose almost 4.2% and the stock market fell more than 3% this Thursday, November 10, after Lula and his representatives defended social investments, with their exclusion from the “spending ceiling”, which imposes a budget limit, based on the sum of the previous year corrected for inflation.

But that is an unavoidable impulse of the Lula government, whose electoral commitments are purely social.

Fighting the hunger of 33 million Brazilians, that is, 15% of the national population of 215 million inhabitants, and reestablishing school meals and popular housing programs are unavoidable electoral promises.

In addition, Lula triumphed for the vote obtained among the poor, which is reflected in the 69.3% of valid votes he obtained in the Northeast, the poorest region of Brazil, in the second round.

That is probably a lesson left by those elections, that the poor have realized their political strength and it would be difficult for a new president to be elected without giving priority to social programs, while there are so many poor people in Brazil. Ensures survival on the left.

Radical supporters of outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro protest against the result of the presidential elections on October 30, in front of the Army Headquarters in Brasilia. They attribute the defeat of the far-right ruler to a fraud and demand a military intervention to annul the victory of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. They have been camped on the premises since November 2 and received a reinforcement of 115 trucks on November 9. Photo: Valter Campanato/Agência Brasil-Public Photos

From evangelicals to military

The extreme right also confirmed an electoral force, with 49.1% of Bolsonaro’s vote.

But while religious conservatism, mainly evangelicals, constituted the great far-right force in the elections, now that role returns to the military. It is no longer about capturing votes, but about destabilizing the future government if it moves too far to the left.

The Armed Forces, through the voice of the Minister of Defense, put the electoral process under a sword, by imposing itself as one of the institutions to examine the Brazilian electoral system. Unlike the others, it did not divulge its conclusions after the first round on October 2.

He promised to do it after the second round. And he does it now with restrictions. She acknowledged not having verified fraud, like the other auditors, but maintains that there are vulnerabilities in the electronic ballot boxes.

Misrepresenting is a military atavism in Brazil, which makes it present the 1964-1985 military dictatorship as a “democratic framework” and deny torture and political disappearances in the period. His aversion to the left is evident, although he denies political preferences.

In any case, a coup d’état does not seem viable, even because the Armed Forces declined in popular confidence, after their participation in the Bolsonaro government.

International surveys by the IPSOS Institute on global trustworthiness indicate that only 30% of Brazilian respondents trusted their Brazilian military at the beginning of 2022, the fourth worst result in 28 countries. The previous year that rate was 35%. Meanwhile, “unreliable” responses rose from 26% to 34%.


Military are placed in the heart of the extreme right in Brazil