The myth of unshakable democracy

Image: Marina Leonova
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By IGOR FELIPPE SANTOS*

January 8th was not the final chapter of the political crisis nor the regeneration of Brazilian democracy

The new myth that gains momentum with the one-year anniversary of the attack on republican institutions on January 8, 2023 is that Brazilian democracy has won and is “unshaken”.

There is no doubt that the attempted coup with the action of destruction of the fascist hordes failed to impose a GLO (Guarantee of Law and Order) that would hand over power to the Armed Forces and remove the then inaugurated President Lula.

However, Brazilian democracy faces a deep crisis and continues to agonize. The defeat of the coup plotters definitely did not represent the redemption of our political system.

This normalization of the national political crisis only serves those who want to maintain the current state of things. Perhaps because it benefits from the growing conflict between powers. Perhaps because they fear that their roots will come to the surface and lead to changes.

Brazil is a presidential country, but the fact is that we live under a veiled parliamentarism or semi-presidentialism. The conflict between the powers, which has worsened in the last 10 years, has as its vector the increasing mutilation of the power of the federal government.

The Judiciary and the Legislative Power have taken, under the condescension of those who today extol democracy, political, economic and institutional responsibilities from the Executive Power and usurped popular sovereignty expressed in the vote.

The desire of deputies and senators to obtain increasingly larger slices of the Budget for parliamentary amendments is appalling. They have become an instrument for congressmen to increase their influence in their electoral strongholds, regardless of the government in charge.

There is no precedent for the level of exposure of STF ministers, who intervene in the political scene in interviews in newspapers, TV programs, podcasts and social networks in an increasingly banal way. After the demoralization of Operation Lava Jato, there was a change in the Judiciary's orientation, but there were no changes in the Justice system.

Members of the Armed Forces leadership, who participated in the impeachment process of President Dilma Rousseff, worked to maintain Lula's arrest, were part of Jair Bolsonaro's government and were involved in the January 8 attack, remain unpunished.

The federal government, under the command of a President of the Republic elected by the majority of voters and an expression of popular sovereignty, is increasingly hostage to the National Congress and the STF.

In this scenario, the bourgeoisie maintains control of the economy, plays the “economic stability” card and uses the Legislative Power and the Judiciary Power to limit the actions of the federal government and block the winning program in the 2022 elections.

January 8th was not the final chapter of the political crisis nor the regeneration of Brazilian democracy. The coup attempt is also a consequence of the dissolution of the political regime. As long as there are no changes in the power structure, which restore the deep meaning of popular sovereignty, that all power emanates from the people, our fragile democracy will be at risk.

It is very dangerous to idealize this democracy in crisis because the population's frustration and the lack of an alternative to the collapse of the political system and institutions, forged by the 1988 Constitution, could lead the country to yet another far-right offensive, much more violent than the 8th of January.

*Igor Felipe Santos is a journalist and social movement activist.


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