7 September

Image: Florencio Rojas
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By LEONARDO AVRITZER & ELIARA SANTANA*

The date was hijacked, but the 'unbrochable' had no effect

The 7th of September of this year, when Brazil celebrated 200 years of independence, was completely hijacked by Bolsonarism and its need for electoral mobilization. On a day that should have been a festive day for the country, a national date and not a campaign moment, Brazil witnessed the grotesque spectacle of a president who, practically alone on the platform, was extolling the virtues of his supposed virility. Although this was a pathetic moment in national history, it is important to notice other movements, which were disregarded by the main analysts, but which point in the direction of overcoming Bolsonarism.

First of all, let's highlight the evident lack of institutional support for Bolsonaro: on the platform, on the day of the event, the president was alone as the protagonist of that questionable spectacle - at his side, only the vice president, Hamilton Mourão, the president of Portugal , Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, and businessman Luciano Hang, who is the target of a Federal Police operation authorized by the Minister of the Federal Supreme Court (STF) Alexandre de Moraes. No representative of the other Powers of the Republic was there – not even the ally Arthur Lira, from Centrão, signaling a deepening of the president's institutional isolation.

It is worth remembering what the event of September 7, 2021 was like, when President Jair Bolsonaro strongly attacked the other powers of the Republic, in particular the Judiciary, in the figure of the STF, demonstrating, at that moment, a good capacity to destabilize relations between the Powers and Brazilian democracy. A comparison between that moment and the current September 7th shows the captain's weaknesses in his campaign for re-election and the destabilization of democracy in Brazil.

In 2021, Jair Bolsonaro used the event as the culmination of his dispute with the STF, over the right to disclose fake news and to destabilize institutions. At that moment, Jair Bolsonaro, when summoning truck drivers to Brasilia, defending the closure of the STF and challenging Minister Alexandre de Moraes, stated: “Either the head of this Power fits yours or this Power can suffer what we do not want, because we value it, we recognize and know the value of each branch of the Republic”. That is, real threats to the STF were made in 2021. But this year, regardless of the fact that Jair Bolsonaro hijacked the September 7 celebrations as a campaign act, it is important to consider that the limits of the president's ability to destabilize institutions democracy has become much clearer.

The preventive action of the STF strongly contributed to imposing this limit: even with the scale of the mobilization already called by Bolsonarist allies and by the president himself, the Supreme Court prohibited trucks from accessing the Esplanada dos Ministérios, in Brasília. In a clear clash and disrespect to the STF, President Jair Bolsonaro authorized the entry of trucks, but was immediately disallowed by the Governor of the Federal District, Ibaneis Rocha. Thus, Jair Bolsonaro was unable to use his mobilization capacity to challenge the STF and ended up disallowed by other authorities, as was the case with the governor of the Federal District.

Thirdly, and even more importantly, it is worth mentioning that, in 2021, several sectors of the military police, especially the PM of São Paulo, were at risk of joining, through their commanders, Bolsonarist demonstrations. The then governor João Doria ended up dismissing the PM commander in the interior of São Paulo, Aleksander Lacerda, who openly called for adherence to the demonstrations and attacked the STF minister, Alexandre de Moraes. This year, we do not see any movement in that direction, and even the Armed Forces dissuaded the president from his intentions to militarize the celebrations in Rio de Janeiro.

 

The 'unbrochable' had no effect

The series of monitoring carried out by the Election Observatory throughout the week of September 7 – especially on the 6th, 7th and 8th – showed important elements to confirm this inability of Bolsonarism to challenge the institutions in this final stretch of the 2022 campaign. that maintains greater engagement on social media, the demonstration of strength by Bolsonarism has not been consolidated – on Facebook, for example, the numbers of interactions with publications about Independence were lower compared to 2021, mainly among supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro.

The publication on the 7th with Jair Bolsonaro’s speech reached only 1,5 million views – in 2021, the release of a video from Jair Bolsonaro’s page with his participation in the Brasília parade yielded more than 8 million views; on YouTube, the most viewed videos were those criticizing the president's behavior and speech.

In terms of narratives that emerged and took shape after the celebrations of the bicentennial of independence, those with a critical tone to the president's speech stood out – they had more views and engagement; the issue of machismo emerged with great force, and the presence of negative content for the image of Jair Bolsonaro on a national and international scale on Twitter was significant. The engagement of users with tweets was essentially with content published by opponents of Jair Bolsonaro, and in addition to negative mentions of the presidential stance, there was the use of a humorous and ironic tone in publications to address the subject. An important fact: the tweets with the highest replication (retweeted) on the 7th were from traditional journalism publishers, that is, journalists, preferably women, and with a critical tone of the president's speech.

The pathetic scene of the public demonstration of a self-proclaimed virility, when the President of the Republic draws to himself the chorus of “unbroachable” had no effect on the President's demonstration of strength. It even seems that it was a backfire that confirms the gradual loss of vigor of Bolsonarism.

*Leonardo Avritzer He is a professor at the Department of Political Science at UFMG. Author, among other books, of Impasses of democracy in Brazil (Brazilian Civilization).

* Eliara Santana is a journalist, PhD in linguistics and Portuguese language from PUC-Minas.

Originally published on Election Observatory.

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