Are Brazilian workers lazy

The military is returning to Brazil

The military is returning to Brazil

The extremely controversial far right Jair Bolsonaro has a good chance of becoming the next president. His closeness to the military brings back unpleasant memories of the unprocessed time of the dictatorship.

«#EleNao» - under this motto hundreds of thousands protested all over Brazil over the weekend. Not against the government, but against the most promising candidate in Sunday's presidential election, the far-right ex-military Jair Bolsonaro. "Bolsonaro is an authoritarian macho and in no way represents the diversity and diversity of Brazil," said 33-year-old Beatriz, who had come to the demonstration called by women's organizations in Rio.

Bolsonaro is violent, according to his divorced wife. He once shouted to a left-wing MP that she didn't deserve to be raped by him. That's why it doesn't go down well with women. What took place over the weekend was not a demo, but a public showdown: Bolsonaro's supporters mobilized significantly less at the same time.

Despite the protest against Bolsonaro: Everyone is alone at the ballot box, and according to surveys, the 63-year-old is likely to get a good third of the votes in the first ballot and together with the ex-mayor of Sao Paolo, Fernando Haddad from the left Workers' Party (PT) to move into the runoff election.

"Suddenly the military are everywhere again"

The extreme polarization in the election campaign is an expression of the severe economic and political crisis in which the largest South American country finds itself. A sign of the voters' weariness with a corrupt elite and a democratic system whose legitimacy has been damaged. Brazil is at a crossroads and the military has a key role to play in this.

According to surveys, 78 percent of Brazilians trust the armed forces. For the first time since the return of democracy, interim president Michel Temer did not put the Ministry of Defense in the hands of a civilian and intervened militarily in the state of Rio when the police were overwhelmed by a wave of violence around the carnival.

A record number of ex-military men are running in this election. For them, democracy is a rotten system; according to them, the nation can only be saved by a hard-handed redeemer. Bolsonaro sees himself as such, a former paratrooper who was forced to retire due to disobedience and has since been a political riot. As a member of parliament he defended the torturers of the military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985, and as a candidate he announced that he would arm the people for self-defense against criminals. He rejects abortion and gay marriage, which earns him the support of the evangelicals. His deputy is ex-general Hamilton Mourao, who said that if the politicians couldn't find a solution, the military would have to step in. He also wants to have the constitution changed by an «committee of experts». He said the other day that Brazilians are disobedient because of indigenous influence and lazy because of black people. Although he was subsequently retired, he received much applause in the reserve.

Left candidate has dashed hopes

Experts are concerned. "Unlike its neighboring countries, Brazil never came to terms with the atrocities of the military dictatorship," says political scientist Vera Chaia. "And suddenly the military are everywhere again." Not alone, of course, but in alliance with some of the entrepreneurs. In economic terms, Bolsonaro sails half under a neoliberal, half under a nationalist flag. While his chief advisor, Paulo Guedes, wants to privatize everything, Bolsonaro promises “Brazil first” in order to reduce the influence of China.

Opposite him is the left-wing candidate Haddad, who got upset during the fight against the political mafia in Sao Paolo and failed in the 2014 re-election. But since it became clear that his extremely popular mentor, ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is in prison for corruption, is not allowed to run, he has taken second place in polls. And with it the hope of the center parties like PSDB and PMDB of getting into the runoff election was dashed.

They are the mouthpieces of the business elite and pay the bill for removing President Dilma Rousseff (PT) in a controversial process in 2016 and for being involved in corruption scandals and illegal party financing. Renewal is hardly to be expected from them, but also not from the PT, which has viewed itself as a victim of a right-wing conspiracy since the impeachment and Lula's conviction and has not undertaken any self-criticism. The fact that Haddad actually has no program at all is lost in the polemics surrounding Bolsonaro.

Dissatisfaction is likely to persist

The political vacuum of ideas and leadership in Congress and at the regional level is even more depressing. There are worn-out footballers like Romario, family clans and all kinds of preachers and solo entertainers. "It's teeming with corrupt candidates," says American Brazil expert Brian Winter. They tried to keep their immunity and evade justice.

A fragmented congress, which forces unsightly alliances and buying votes, was already a brake on Lula's reform plans and is likely to lead to instability and blockades in the future. Together with the economic crisis, which increased poverty enormously, this is unlikely to help strengthen Brazilians' trust in their institutions. Economics expert Rodrigo Zeidan from the Dom Cabral Foundation writes a scenario over which the intervention of the military hovers like a sword of Damocles.