The post-election situation

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By JEAN MARC VON DER WEID*

What happened and the immediate and future consequences of the events we experienced

After the happiness drunk with the defeat of the energetic, we need to analyze what happened and the immediate and future consequences of the events we experienced.

To begin with, it is necessary to value the result of these elections a lot. The narrow victory does not indicate the size of the clash we have experienced throughout this year. It was not a common clash, normal in a democracy. Lula and the democratic opposition that gradually formed during the first and, above all, the second round, had to face much more than one or several right-wing and extreme right-wing parties.

The continuity candidate was also (unfortunately still is) the President of the Republic who used and abused his power to unbalance the game. The cost to the public coffers has not yet been fully accounted for, calculations varying between 100 and 350 billion reais spent on numerous measures to buy votes in all classes of the electorate, in particular the vote of the poorest. On the other hand, Jair Bolsonaro did not hesitate to mobilize resources abroad to finance the virtual networks of the cabinet of hate, in the biggest offensive of lies ever launched in an election, anywhere in the world. Bolsonarist businessmen also abused the laws, constraining their employees to vote for the president, as military and police commands did the same with their subordinates.

The outpouring of public money was not enough to give victory to the incumbent candidate, but it shortened the distance that separated him from Lula at the end of the first round. The lead of 6 million votes has dropped to 2 million and it is still not clear, to me at least, where these votes came from. If the polls were right, the votes of Ciro Gomes and Simone Tebet came to Lula in a ratio of two to one. The number of blank and null votes remained identical to those in the polls and in the first round, as well as the abstention rate. Voting for Lula grew in the Northeast, albeit less than expected.

The only possible conclusion is that part of the Lula vote in the first round passed to Bolsonaro in the second. The 500 Luzema votes in Minas Gerais must have been an important part of this migration, as Lula's 5% advantage over Bolsonaro in that state was reduced to 1%. But what about the other 3,5 million votes? Bolsonaro increased his vote in all states, with the biggest gains being in São Paulo, but also in the southern region. These increases offset the expanded voting for Lula in the Northeast and brought the result to a near victory for Jair Bolsonaro.

The institutions responsible for ensuring the balance of opportunities required by electoral laws, in particular the TSE, were unable to control the wave of lies on social networks, the spill of money and the “electoral harassment” of employers. And the icing on the cake was the attempt by the Federal Highway Police to inhibit the movement of voters in the Northeast region. It seemed to me a desperate maneuver, as blocking the passage of 500 to 600 buses would not have the power to change the results. The important thing, in this case, was not the impact of this irregularity in the use of State force to reinforce the chances of the president, but the fact itself, the engagement of an armed force in the electoral process, taking sides for a candidate. The consequences were clear the day after the elections, with the connivance of this same force with the blockade of federal roads by Bolsonarist truck drivers. The TSE's inability to control the PRF on Sunday resulted in its continued aggression against the law on Monday.

Are we facing an attempted coup initiated by truck drivers and agribusiness entrepreneurs? Is this action, which some are calling the Brazilian Capitol, part of a larger plan?

I don't think so. The number of participants in the blockades is small, no more than 10 to 50 crazed militants clamoring for military intervention in each of the 573 events recorded so far, 306 of which have already been dispersed. Of the remaining 267, 49 are just roadside demonstrations, 136 are partial bans and 89 are total roadblocks. It turns out that even this small number of demonstrators can cause a lot of confusion and is doing so, especially since the reaction is not present.

The STF ordered the PRF to fulfill its mission of allowing vehicles to circulate and took another very significant decision, allowing the state police to intervene to dissolve the blockades on federal roads. This is an indication that the supreme court is declaring its impotence in the attempt to frame the PRF. The risk of this measure generating even more instability is great. Information is already circulating about clashes between federal and state police, including the threat of the use of force by the latter. There is important information about the actions of the population to unblock the highways, expelling Bolsominions.

According to “cocheira” information cited by the Globe News, the president would be depressed in the face of what he considers a betrayal. Indeed, not only several of his cronies were quick to recognize the defeat of the myth (Tarcísio, Damares, Zambeli, Lira, Zema, former ministers, the vice president, others). The operation of the blockades was not articulated and even several Bolsonarist leaders among truck drivers are taking a stand against these acts. It is a spontaneous action by desperate Bolsonarists that only prospered due to the lack of reaction.

And where did the tactic that I called “ball or bullet” go? In my opinion, Bolsonaro proved incapable of keeping the two irons in the fire. On the one hand, he believed in the promises of Centrão, which stated early on that no one loses an election in Brazil if they spend enough money. It cannot be said that there was a lack of money. After all, no election in the world, not even in the United States, where campaigns spend many billions of dollars (legally), has a precedent for so much money being spilled.

Believing that he could win with the big hand (or big pocket), Bolsonaro left aside the preparation of the coup. On the other hand, although Bolsonaro maintained his pressure against the electoral process, with the collaboration of the Ministry of Defense, he lost his argument by accepting the results of the first round. Without the approval of the FFAA command to question the results, he was cornered and doubled his bet on winning at the polls, violating all electoral laws and trusting that the TSE would not have the courage to question his irregular victory.

I discussed this issue of the threat of a coup a lot with several colleagues. For me, the question was never whether the coup would be successful, but the risks we incurred in the attempt. Bolsonaro had several favorable elements for his intent. He had many millions of followers believing his anti-voting chant. At least 700 of them are armed and organized in shooting clubs. He had a strong following among military police officers in all states, those who roared “skull” at each visit of the madman to their barracks. He had the support of the PRF and part of the PF.

It had the support of commanders of the navy and air force, including explicit and irregular demonstrations on social networks. He had the support of troop commanders, brigadier generals, colonels, captains and lieutenants, many manifesting themselves on social networks, following the example of their superiors. Why didn't he appeal to this armed base? In my opinion, Jair Bolsonaro lost his timing and got entangled in an attempt to win the vote. Let's remember that during the elections, what we saw was the demobilization of cattle.

Bolsonaro’s electoral political acts were not very mobilizing. While Lula took millions to the streets in his campaign, Bolsonaro took a few thousand. The president relied on his “silent majority”, since his last attempt to get large masses to support him was on September XNUMXth. From then on, the DataPovo so dear to Bolsonaro began to count the numbers of PT and Lula parties and the cattle disappeared.

It has always been evident that Jair Bolsonaro would not be able to annul the elections without a massive demonstration of force by his followers, in order to provoke a state of instability that would push the general population to put pressure on Congress. Leaving the auê to do after the polls closed has not worked, at least until now. The defeat by a few votes did not prevent congress and the judiciary from declaring a winner and Bolsonaristas retracted.

Road blocking acts are a disturbance of democratic order, but they don't have the potential to create the chaos Bolsonaro needs. And it lacks the courage to go over the high command generals and call the middle officers to revolt. Bolsonaro has no alternative but to intubate defeat and prepare to go home, eat bread with condensed milk and wait for the lawsuits that will fall on him once his immunity from office is lost.

What worried me all this time was the lack of a contingency plan in case of a coup attempt. Denying the risk never seemed like a smart attitude to me and always resembled an acknowledgment that there was nothing to be done. Neither Lula nor the PT and their allies prepared the masses for the hypothesis of a coup attempt and no appeal was made for a popular reaction should it occur.

Fortunately, an assessment I made in one of my articles was confirmed. Bolsonaro lacks the intelligence and courage for a high-risk gesture. It does not have an organic base, a party and a shock force responding to a disciplined command. The angry person always acted believing that it was enough to call his people through social networks for an insurrectionary movement to take place. With the shock of defeat, not only was there not a tide of spontaneous demonstrations capable of generating the institutional crisis necessary to move the FFAA, but the president himself was quickly abandoned by his peers.

Democracy was saved, but at a very high price and not only in a gigantic deficit in public accounts. The control and enforcement mechanisms of the laws proved fragile, although they contained some of the president's most outrageous barbarities.

And the future? Lula gave a speech that was 100% correct on the day of his victory and pointed to a program to recover democratic institutions, the State's ability to promote the necessary social changes and face the socio-environmental crisis that Jair Bolsonaro left as a "cursed legacy". It is clear that Lula will govern with a broad front of democracy defenders, far beyond the PT base and the left. But the difficulties will be huge, especially in facing one of the worst Congresses in our history, where the opportunist right (Centrão) and the Bolsonarist extreme right will create all kinds of problems. It will be necessary to govern with agreements with politicians who are very far from looking at the needs of the people. Social mobilization will have to compensate for this parliamentary weakness with intense participation in public policy debates.

With all these problems, however, we are at a time when the hope for better days has once again infected an immense part of our population, especially those most in need. It is this capital of hope that leads me to believe that we have a chance to rescue the country that Bolsonaro took to the brink of an abyss.

The program defended by Lula these last few days is correctly defined in his priorities. The question will be how to use the few available resources to make the most of it, and Lula is good at that.

It's time to roll up our sleeves and discuss the fundamental problems that afflict us.

*Jean Marc von der Weid is a former president of the UNE (1969-71). Founder of the non-governmental organization Family Agriculture and Agroecology (ASTA).

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