The Jair Bolsonaro government and its Centrão allies turned a blind eye to the manifesto of businessmen and personalities in defense of the electronic ballot box and the holding of elections in 2022.
The expectation of the authors of the “Elections will be respected” movement is that social pressure will have the same effects as the letter in favor of vaccination, also signed by prominent names in the national GDP. Released in March, the document made Congress demand, and the government act, closing the biggest contracts for the purchase of vaccines against covid-19.
Like the “letter of the 500”, as the pro-vaccine text became known, the manifesto in defense of democracy emerged in solidarity with the president of the Superior Electoral Court (TSE), Luís Roberto Barroso, after attacks by Bolsonaro and supporters.
The organizers read that the movement showed cohesion and fought the idea that there is tolerance of the national elite with authoritarian raptures. The short and direct text was passed on to large businessmen from different sectors, such as retailers, insurance companies and banks, in addition to renowned intellectuals, contemplating divergent political positions.
The intention was to indicate a “enough” to Bolsonaro’s undemocratic rise. For the organizers, civil society was attentive to expedients outside the constitutional framework. They assess that the attempt to implement voting with paper ballots is nothing more than a pretext to disrupt the 2022 election.
There was a concern to avoid getting into discussions about the impeachment of Bolsonaro because, among the initial signatories, there are divergent positions regarding the need to open the process against the president.
Hours after the publication of the manifesto in the newspapers, however, Bolsonaro returned to make statements against the electronic ballot box, insisting on pressure for the printed vote, made new threats to disrespect the Constitution and attacked ministers Alexandre de Moraes and Luís Roberto Barroso, who, in addition, presiding over the TSE, he is part of the Federal Supreme Court. It was Barroso who asked for, and Moraes accepted, crime-news against Bolsonaro, now investigated in the fake news inquiry.
“His time (Moraes) will come because he has been playing outside the four lines of the Constitution for a long time. I don’t intend to go out of my way to question these authorities, but I believe the time is coming,” Bolsonaro said on Thursday, in an interview with Rádio 93 FM, a gospel broadcaster in Rio. The group behind the movement interpreted the statements as of someone who “is cornered and reacts more aggressively.” Yesterday was no different. On a trip to Joinville (SC), Bolsonaro referred to Barroso as “son of a…”.
Reactions. The main institutional reaction was from the Judiciary. On Thursday, the president of the Supreme Court, Luiz Fux, canceled a meeting between the summits of the Powers. Fux said he warned Bolsonaro about the “limits of freedom of expression” and said respect was “non-negotiable” and a prerequisite for dialogue. “His Excellency (Bolsonaro) maintains the disclosure of mistaken interpretations of the plenary’s decisions, as well as insists on putting under suspicion the healthiness of the Brazilian electoral process”, he said.
The president of the Chamber, Arthur Lira (Progressistas-AL), one of the main recipients of the manifesto, said the day before yesterday that he was not aware of the text. “I didn’t see it,” he told Estadão. The following day, he announced that he would take the discussion about the printed vote to the plenary of the Chamber, even after the bill had been defeated by a special commission. On the occasion, Progressives, Republicans, PSL, PTB and Podemos, parties from the Centrão, guided the deputies for approval.
On Wednesday, Lira had defended the “more transparent” audit, in a speech aligned with Bolsonaro, and stated that Congress should analyze the issue because a “large portion of the population has doubts” about the result of the election counted electronically. The signs of Lira’s alignment with the Planalto Palace on the agenda have been criticized in the business sector, with which he has built a strong channel of dialogue since he was elected to head the Chamber.
The vice-president of the Chamber, Marcelo Ramos (PL-AM), on the other hand, highlighted the relevance of the movement, which, in his opinion, will influence the course of the debate in Congress. “It is an important manifestation, it demonstrates that very relevant sectors of the national business sector react to these coup initiatives. It is extremely symbolic and influences the commission’s decision,” said Ramos.
Despite the focus in the Chamber, the movement “Election is Respected” wanted to send a direct signal to the Senate. Organizers believe that senator Rodrigo Pacheco (DEM-MG), president of the House, has greater power to prevent the agenda from advancing.
‘Deterioration of Democracy is Serious Threat’
The rhetoric adopted by President Jair Bolsonaro against institutions and against the electoral system invokes a real threat to the country’s democracy. , which brought together businessmen, bankers, economists, diplomats and jurists in opposition to threats from the Chief Executive.
“There is no way to turn a blind eye to those who threaten the democratic process. We saw this happening in the United States, but the institutions held back. Other countries were less fortunate: we saw a deterioration of democracy in Hungary, Poland, Turkey. This is not a scarecrow, it is a real and present threat”, said Schwartsman, in an interview with Estadão/Broadcast.
For the economist, the escalation of Bolsonaro’s statements shows an increase in the risk of institutional rupture in the country. that Bolsonaro is at considerable risk of losing the election and is going in the wake of (former US President Donald) Trump’s disqualification of the electoral process,” said Schwartsman. “It’s not just a question of presidential rhetoric.”
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