How likely is a coup attempt if Bolsonaro loses the Brazilian election?
The Hundred #32: September 29, 2022
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“As a far-right populist, Bolsonaro sees re-election as a matter of political survival. Therefore, it is highly unlikely he will leave office without leaving behind a trail of chaos. Bolsonaro’s attitude towards the electoral process raises red flags. Backed by military and congressional allies, he has spent the past months escalating his electoral fraud rhetoric and questioning the integrity of voting machines. Given that Bolsonaro has the support of a third of Brazilians, and that Brazil is more polarized and radicalized than ever, a January 6 scenario—but with much weaker institutions to prevent democratic breakdown—poses a real risk.”
“The September 7th (Brazil's Independence Day) celebrations showed that non-democratic attempts by the president will not be backed up by other institutional sectors. Important allies in congress did not attend the event, which was considered an electoral speech rather than a national address. Though he is politically isolated in his radical attacks on the electoral system, which makes a coup unlikely, Bolsonaro has dramatically changed Brazil’s bureaucracy. The military now has an increased presence in the corridors of power. Democracy means more than a lack of coup, and much is at stake for the good functioning of Brazil's institutions.”
“In my perspective, a coup attempt is unlikely if Bolsonaro loses the Brazilian election. Despite the president’s confrontational rhetoric, putting in doubt the transparency of the election, the electoral process has accountability, and checks and balances. Consolidated democratic institutions, a more professional armed forces, and popular mobilization are also an insurance against a potential coup. What worries me more is the number of people with guns and the increasing political polarization in the country. This could lead to violence before, during and after the elections, especially by the most radical supporters of the president, in the event of his defeat.”
We’re bringing back Forecast this week. For each Forecast edition, we provide a falsifiable statement on a subject related to the newsletter and we all get the chance to vote on it. In this case, vote yes if you believe there will be a coup attempt in Brazil this year. If you believe there won’t be, vote no.
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