Where is the military party going?

Image_Elyeser Szturm

By Marcus Ianoni*

There are contradictions between the messages of the military and its defined role in the Constitution. Are they awaiting Bolsonaro's call, backed by extremist forces, or will they continue as a "moderating power"?

On May 04, the Minister of Defense, Reserve General Fernando Azevedo e Silva, said the following: “Navy, Army and Air Force are State bodies, which consider independence and harmony between the Powers essential for the governance of the country ”. On the 5th, Minister Celso de Mello, of the STF, authorized the testimony, among others, of three military ministers of the Bolsonaro government in the inquiry opened by the PGR to investigate the information and allegations that former Minister Sergio Moro made public when he asked resignation from his position in the Ministry of Justice and Public Security. In his dispatch, Celso de Mello said that all those summoned to testify are subject, under the law, to coercive conduct. The military ministers summoned are generals Augusto Heleno (Institutional Security Office), Luiz Eduardo Ramos (Government Secretariat) and Walter Braga Netto (Civil House).

On the 7th, the Military Club publishes a Note of Repudiation, by which it “emphatically repudiates the order issued yesterday by Minister Celso de Mello, of the STF, in the inquiry that investigates allegations made by the former Minister of Justice and Public Security against the President of the Republic . […] Democracy is characterized by the independence and harmony between the three branches of government and the great supervisor of this system is the population. Thus, when we see demonstrations, with increasing frequency, contesting the actions of any of the powers of the Republic, it cannot be said that these movements are anti-democratic. We can, yes, affirm that there are gears of the system that are acting outside the democratic context”.

Before evaluating these recent facts, it is worth recalling the well-known delimitation that the 1988 Constitution establishes, in Art. 142, on the role of the Armed Forces. They are “organized on the basis of hierarchy and discipline, under the supreme authority of the President of the Republic, and are intended for the defense of the Homeland, the guarantee of constitutional powers and, on the initiative of any of these, law and order”. But what is the limit of the guaranteeing function of constitutional powers and law and order? To think that it can extrapolate the backbone of the Democratic State of Law would be an intellectual, rhetorical and casuistic juggling act, in short, it would be unacceptable, illegitimate and illegal.

The position of the Minister of Defense came after Bolsonaro, on May 3, again participated in a demonstration in Brasília full of banners and posters defending the closure of Congress and the STF and the return of the AI-5. A similar demonstration had already taken place, with the presence of Bolsonaro, on April 19, Army Day, purposely held at the door of the Greens' headquarters. Citizens attentive to politics know Bolsonaro's authoritarian ideology, which he never hid, on the contrary, he always made a point of making it explicit. For the second consecutive year, for example, the government has encouraged the commemoration of the anniversary of the 1964 military coup. In previous governments, from Fernando Henrique to Temer, passing through Lula and Dilma, the Minister of Defense did not need to reaffirm the essential nature of independence and harmony between the powers.

In the recent political process, since the deposition of Dilma Rousseff, several elements of institutional and social authoritarianism have been observed. I highlight here, in addition to the events mentioned above, the emergence of an extreme right electorate mobilized in the streets, which preaches against democratic institutions. The relevance of this phenomenon has increased since the 2018 elections, under the umbrella of Bolsonaro’s candidacy. It should be noted that, in February of that year, a reserve general, Joaquim Silva e Luna, took office for the first time since its creation in 1999.

Still at the end of September 2018, 15 days after assuming the presidency of the STF, Minister Dias Toffolli appointed Fernando Azevedo e Silva as his advisor. Three months later, he would become the holder of the Defense portfolio in the new government, a post he still holds. Until August of that year, Azevedo e Silva carried out his last active duty, as Chief of Staff of the Army. These facts are relevant. The military has been resuming its presence in politics with substantial consistency. According to the press, there are almost three thousand military personnel occupying positions in various agencies of the federal government in the states of the federation, in addition to numerous ministries.

But the statement by the Ministry of Defense does not harmonize with the form and content of the Clube Militar's position. If harmony between powers is fundamental for governance, why such a note of repudiation, such a hostile tone? Power controls power, to avoid concentration of power. If there is respect for the separation of powers, why publicly rebuke the formal position of the Supreme Court minister in the exercise of his function? In addition, it is inauthentic for the Military Club to propose to teach what Democracy is (with a capital letter) and, in this sense, to argue that “the great supervisor of this system is the population” and that popular demonstrations express problems in the workings of the system democratic.

The military are defending a direct way of exercising democracy, but to fight it? Populists? Just them, who went against the massive movement of Diretas Já!? Just the corporation that, for example, a month after the promulgation of the 1988 Constitution, repressed the strike by CSN workers in Volta Redonda, resulting in three deaths? If the military values ​​hierarchy and discipline so much, why not do the same in relation to the STF? Why not exercise the right to complain in a more cordial tone? After all, wasn't it the STF that saved the military from reviewing the amnesty law? Why doesn't the Military Club repudiate the demonstrations that talk about the closure of Congress and the STF, instead of, erroneously, considering them democratic?

Why not question General Heleno, Minister of the Institutional Security Office, for saying that Congress is blackmailing? Above all, if the Military Club values ​​democracy, why did it not repudiate the videos in which Bolsonaro attacked Congress and the STF, while at the same time calling on the population to put an end to what it considers intolerable? Why didn't he reprimand Bolsonaro for the recent attacks on Minister Alexandre de Moraes? Why didn't he repudiate Bolsonaro's frequent attacks on the press? Answer: the military is the main party of the current Presidency of the Republic, whose mandate does not even have a formal party. The “military party” has an authoritarian tendency, a high level of hierarchy and discipline, as well as cohesion, although it is not monolithic.

The original “coalition presidentialism” of the “myth” is with two forces of civil society, on the one hand, market agents, on the other, street extremists. These are the foundations of the “military party”, which has been practicing an increasingly threatening authoritarian populism. But also, due to the permanent political crisis created by the president and the wear and tear of his government, to avoid the fall - for attacking public health, against democracy and / or the ongoing investigation in the PGR - this informal party approached the Centrão , whose main strength is the DEM of Rodrigo Maia, a leader that is not very palatable to the Planalto.

The facts suggest that the subtext of the military's behavior is as follows: on the one hand, through Bolsonaro and Mourão, they are prioritizing the Executive and the direct and populist-authoritarian-mobilizing relationship of the “myth” with voters; on the other hand, they disqualify the Legislative and the Judiciary, throwing them into the mass grave of old politics, corruption, favors between friends, privileges, lack of institutional pulse and so on. In the eyes of the observer, the discomfort, lack of familiarity and ill will of Bolsonaro’s militarized government – ​​elected under somewhat controversial conditions, due to Fake News and the environment of intimidation and political violence – with the democracy of parties and parliamentarians, overflows in the eyes of the observer. with bureaucracy, with due process of law, with civil and political rights.

An interesting hypothesis is that of military guardianship, which would have been configured since when the then commander of the Armed Forces, General Villas Bôas, in April 2018, on the eve of Lula’s Habeas Corpus trial at the STF, expressed himself in his Twitter account : “In this situation Brazil is experiencing, it remains to ask the institutions and the people who is really thinking about the good of the country and future generations and who is concerned only with personal interests?” In a later interview, in November of that year, this general practically hinted that he intended to “intervene” in case of an unfavorable decision.

Therefore, and it is up to the Armed Forces to guarantee constitutional powers and, if called upon, law and order, they would be waiting, depending on the evolution of the critical situation (growing pandemic, recession, criminal investigation involving Bolsonaro, requests for impeachment), which President Bonaparte summons them, backed by the anti-democratic extremists of the streets, the PMs and the militias, to direct dictatorial action, or they will “limit themselves” to continuing to exercise, so to speak, moderating power, due to prolonged intimidating tutelage over the powers of the State, on political competition and on society and, in this condition, would they tolerate a possible deposition of the former captain and the consequent weakening of militarist populism, since they have the alternative Mourão, also military?

A third way is to remain with Bolsonaro until 2022, but who knows under what conditions and at what price.

*Marcus Ianoni is a professor at the Department of Political Science at the Fluminense Federal University (UFF).

See this link for all articles


  • Introduction to “Capital” by Karl Marxred triangular culture 02/06/2024 By ELEUTÉRIO FS PRADO: Commentary on the book by Michael Heinrich
  • The STF, Artificial Intelligence and the Labor Courtsouto-maior_edited 07/06/2024 By JORGE LUIZ SOUTO MAIOR: The implementation of the replacement of the human being by AI presupposes that it has already been trained to act in the way desired by the ruling class
  • About artificial ignoranceEugenio Bucci 15/06/2024 By EUGÊNIO BUCCI: Today, ignorance is not an uninhabited house, devoid of ideas, but a building full of disjointed nonsense, a goo of heavy density that occupies every space
  • Franz Kafka, libertarian spiritFranz Kafka, libertarian spirit 13/06/2024 By MICHAEL LÖWY: Notes on the occasion of the centenary of the death of the Czech writer
  • The strike at federal Universities and Institutescorridor glazing 01/06/2024 By ROBERTO LEHER: The government disconnects from its effective social base by removing those who fought against Jair Bolsonaro from the political table
  • Impasses and solutions for the political momentjose dirceu 12/06/2024 By JOSÉ DIRCEU: The development program must be the basis of a political commitment from the democratic front
  • Union registrationSUBWAY 11/06/2024 By LAWRENCE ESTIVALET DE MELLO & RENATA QUEIROZ DUTRA: The Ministry of Labor has decided to grant union registration to Proifes. However, union registration is not the same as union representation
  • Confessions of a Catholic LadyMarilia Pacheco Fiorillo 11/06/2024 By MARILIA PACHECO FIORILLO: Congenital reactionism is not only the preserve of evangelicals
  • Regionalist literature in the 21st centuryCulture the corridor 06/06/2024 By DANIEL BRAZIL: Commentary on Benilson Toniolo's novel
  • A myopic logicRED MAN WALKING _ 12/06/2024 By LUIS FELIPE MIGUEL: The government does not have the political will to make education a priority, while it courts the military or highway police, who do not move a millimeter away from the Bolsonarism that they continue to support