Brazil Needs a United Anti-Bolsonaro Front
Even if President Jair Bolsonaro loses by a large margin in October's election, Brazilian democracy will face a tough stress test. But a Bolsonaro victory – or even a narrow loss – would bode far worse for the country, the region, and, given the environmental importance of the Amazon, the entire planet.
PARIS – In less than a month, Brazilian voters will elect their next president. One might imagine that the unpopular far-right incumbent, Jair Bolsonaro, doesn’t stand a chance. But Bolsonaro retains the support of some very powerful forces, and he continues to pose a severe threat to Brazilian democracy.
Since coming to power in 2019, Bolsonaro has seemingly made it his mission to dismantle Brazil’s democratic institutions. Almost immediately upon taking office, he stripped Brazil’s federal agency for indigenous affairs, FUNAI, of key powers. He subsequently appointed Marcelo Xavier da Silva – a police officer linked to agribusiness – to head the agency, opening the way for the removal of protections of indigenous lands. Likewise, Brazil’s main environmental agency, Ibama, has suffered from budget cuts, political interference, and the weakening of regulations. And Bolsonaro – a former army captain – has encouraged the politicization of the armed forces and the regional military police.
If Bolsonaro secures another term in office, these trends will only worsen. After all, elected autocrats tend to escalate their efforts to destroy democracy after their second electoral victory. So, how likely is another Bolsonaro term?