Brazil: The Collapse of Democracy?

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 1695 ... October 27, 2018

Brazil: The Collapse of Democracy?

Alfredo Saad-Filho

Brazil will elect its new President on 28 October 2018. Since the judicial-parliamentary coup that removed elected President Dilma Rousseff, of the Workers’ Party (PT), the new administration (led by her former Vice-President, Michel Temer) has advanced its agenda of neoliberal ‘reforms’. The economic crisis has continued unabated, and the campaign for the destruction of the PT has intensified, leading to the imprisonment of former President and PT founder Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Finally, the Armed Forces have increasingly intervened in political life, particularly through the occupation of peripheral areas in Rio de Janeiro. Their close articulation with the Judiciary is encapsulated in the appointment of General Fernando Azevedo e Silva as ‘advisor’ to the President of... the Supreme Court, and in statements that would be scandalous in less turbulent times, such as the thinly-disguised demand for Lula’s incarceration issued by Army Commander General Eduardo Villas Boas. The co-ordinated shift of public institutions toward an exceptionally excluding variety of neoliberalism was challenged by attempts to rebuild the left through Lula’s campaign for the presidency and, in particular, through his convoy around the country in early 2018, which led to his steep rise in the opinion polls.

Given the likelihood that the coup against Dilma Rousseff would end in Lula’s victory at the polls, it is not surprising that the cancellation of the elections was mooted. However, this would not be necessary. The coup plotters managed to sentence Lula to more than twelve years in prison despite the lack of evidence and, subsequently, to bar his candidacy, in a blatant demonstration of lawfare against him and his party. The escalating conflict between a radicalizing ‘alliance of privilege’ in power, and the attempted responses by the PT and the left, consolidated Lula’s position not only as the unquestioned leader of the democratic camp but, also, as the most talented leader in Brazilian political history. In contrast, a string of anonymous figures and insignificant personalities took turns leading the alliance of privilege.

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