Bolsonaro’s allies expect election-focused acts but do not rule out attacks by the president against the president of the Brazilian Supreme Federal Court, Alexandre Moraes
According to the Folha de São Paulo newspaper, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro (PL) wants to use Brazil Independence Day on September 7 to give a show of force and rally his most loyal voter bases with less than a month to go before the first round of Brazilian elections.
Bolsonaro and his allies have called on businesspeople, especially those in the agribusiness industry, and evangelical leaders to try to make sure that a lot of people show up to his authoritarian pyrotechnic show.
In doing so, they plan to insist on the thesis they have dubbed “Datapovo” (Data People in English): trying to counter opinion polls – in which Bolsonaro appears behind former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) – with images of street demonstrations with large numbers of people.
A Datafolha poll released last Thursday (2) showed Bolsonaro 13 points behind Lula. The Brazilian presidential candidate leads with 45% of the vote intentions, against the Bolsonaro’s 32%.
Last year, September 7th was marked by Bolsonaro’s coup statements and attacks against ministers of the STF (Brazilian Supreme Federal Court). The president’s threats in 2021 deepened the crisis between the Planalto Palace (Executive Office of the President) and the Judiciary. Bolsonaro, who was being harshly criticized at the time, sent out a letter in which he denied that he planned to attack the other parts of the government. This made people feel better.
Advisors to the president say that this holiday, unlike what happened last year, the acts should have more electoral content. People are worried, though, that Bolsonaro could launch new attacks against institutions and ministers of the judiciary. This could make voters think of the president as even more of a radical leader.
From the campaign’s point of view, the fear is that the current high level of 52% of people who don’t like Bolsonaro would go up if he becomes more radical.
Polls that Bolsonaro’s allies have seen show that the undecided voters he wants to win over don’t like it when he acts more aggressively or like he’s planning a coup.
On Saturday, March 3, Bolsonaro called the Supreme Court Minister, Alexandre de Moraes, who is also president of the TSE (Superior Electoral Court), a “bum” because he ordered a federal investigation against Bolsonaro’s businessmen allies who, in a WhatsApp group, called for a coup d’état if Lula wins the election. This strengthened the idea that Bolsonaro’s speeches are becoming more extreme.
One of the people the legal operations are trying to catch is Luciano Hang, owner of Havan stores, who is a friend of the President of Brazil.
Bolsonaro is expected to attend the civic-military parade in Brasilia in the morning. In the afternoon, he will travel to Rio for a demonstration of supporters in Copacabana, which will also include demonstrations by FAB (Brazilian Air Force) planes and navy ships.
In recent weeks, evangelical leaders have begun to call more emphatically for people to take to the streets. One of his most important evangelical leaders, Pastor Silas Malafaia, is expected to take part in the events in Brasilia and Rio.
“I don’t think he [Bolsonaro] will use the same tone as last year’s September 7,” he said, pointing out that the president is now campaigning. “If he speaks, I don’t believe he’s going to say anything about the Supreme Court. He’s going to talk about Brazil, about the government. ”
After the legal operation against Bolsonaro’s businessmen, Malafaia released a video on social networks saying that Moraes is a “bastard who tears up the Constitution” and calling for people to take action.
Bolsonaro has taken part in the main March for Jesus events in capital cities over the past few months. He has used these events to call on Christians to take to the streets on the Independence Day holiday.
“Next 7th, we will all, at 3pm, be present in Copacabana, where we will give a very strong shout, saying to whom this nation belongs and what we want, which is transparency and freedom,” he spoke at the march in Rio.
In addition, evangelical Bolsonarist leaders, such as Pastor Claudio Duarte and JB Carvalho, have started a fasting and prayer campaign until the election date.
Bolsonaro has also sought to win the loyalty of another important supporter in his quest for reelection: agribusiness. At the invitation of the Presidential Administration, 28 tractors will participate in the traditional civic-military parade that will take place on the Esplanade of the Ministries in Brasilia, the Capital of Brazil. The idea is that they represent the economic importance of agribusiness.
In Mato Grosso, where the economy is based on this sector, political and business leaders should pay for transportation and, in some cases, even food for supporters who want to travel from the state to Brasilia on September 7th.
“We should fill a bus, but other cities should take more people as well,” said the president of the rural union of Sinop, Ilson José Redivo.
Bolsonaro’s vice-president, Braga Netto, visited the city last week. Then Senator Flávio Bolsonaro (PL-RJ), the week before.
The leader of the “Brasil Verde e Amarelo Movement,” which was created by large landholders and paid for billboards spread throughout Brasilia to call for the authoritarian demonstration on Independence Day, businessman Antônio Galvan should also attend the event in Brasilia.
“We will try to get many people there. But there should also be acts in the cities for those who cannot go and [are] staying in the state,” said Galvan – who was cited in the inquiry investigating last year’s antidemocratic acts.
Another name of Bolsonarism that is expected to attend the events in Rio and Brasilia is Luciano Hang, owner of Havan stores. Notorious supporter of the president, he was invited by Bolsonaro to participate at his side in the demonstrations. It’s a support gesture to the businessman who is the target of the investigation into antidemocratic acts.
“I received the invitation and I will be there, as I did in 2019, to celebrate the 200 years of our Independence and freedom,” Luciano Hang said.
According to members of the campaign, the businessman’s departure symbolizes the speech for freedom of speech that the president seeks to reinforce. But they admit that his presence on stage can be understood as an affront to the Supreme Federal Court president, Alexandre de Moraes, and a sign that Bolsonaro can adopt a critical tone against the Court in his speech.
In 2021, Bolsonaro threatened to overthrow the Supreme Federal Court with a coup and told the people of Brazil not to follow the decisions of Justice. He did this to encourage civil disobedience.
The weeks leading up to the Independence holiday last year were some of the most tense in Bolsonaro’s administration. The president was politically isolated, pressured by the crisis between the power branches and by the high inflation and energy crisis. His allies thought that after a string of bad news for the government, he needed to show that he was strong.
On posters that protesters carried, they called for populist and authoritarian measures like military intervention, printed ballots (after Congress voted down the idea of printed ballots, reinsuring the electronic voting system), impeachment of STF ministers, and dissolution of the TSE (Superior Electoral Court).
A year later, Bolsonaro, who is seeking reelection, has even asked supporters not to carry signs advocating a coup. This does not mean that he will not criticize the electronic ballot boxes and the Supreme Federal Court minister, Alexandre de Moraes.
The videos circulating for the event talk about “freedom” and “clean and transparent elections,” two slogans that Bolsonaro usually uses against the electronic voting system in order to undermine Brazilian democracy.