Brazilian Election Raises Fears of a Bolsonaro Military Coup

Brazil’s elections will be heading towards a runoff on October 30th after former leftist President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was unable to win a majority in Sunday’s first round of elections. The former president “Lula”, a candidate representing Brazil’s worker’s party, won 48% of the vote, while Bolsonaro, Brazil’s incumbent far-right president, won 43%. The outcome of this first election surprised many Brazilians after initial polls predicted “Lula’s” outright win. Unfortunately for his supporters, while Lula won a plurality, he did not win a majority of votes needed in the 11-person race. 

Brazilians who oppose Bolsonaro fear the possibility of him conducting a coup in order to maintain power. In a speech addressing his supporters after Sunday’s election, he said, “We are going to form good alliances for us to win the election. I can’t talk of it at the moment.”

However, leftist Brazilians have remained excited about the possibility of former President Lula’s candidacy. In reaction to Bolsonaro’s far-right presidency, Lula has moved notably to the left, with a campaign run on reducing inequality, preserving the Amazon rainforest, and protecting indigenous communities. 

In a Democracy Now interview, Noam Chomsky, esteemed political dissident and linguist, emphasized the significance this election’s outcome has for the world, “Most of the Amazon region is in Brazil. Of the two candidates, one of them, the current president, Bolsonaro, is basically committed to destroying the Amazon. During his years in office, there’s been a sharp acceleration with his approval of illegal logging, mining, agribusiness, and tax on the Indigenous reserves. It’s been known for some time that, sooner or later, if the destruction of the forest continues, there won’t be enough moisture produced to reproduce the Amazon. It’ll turn to savanna. Regrettably, that’s beginning to happen.” Ultimately, a continuation of Bolsonaro’s power would result in one of the world’s most reliable carbon sinks becoming a carbon producer. 

Bolsonaro’s policies ensure support from political groups, which would be necessary for conducting a coup. While Brazil’s business community disdains Bolsonaro’s vulgarity and corruption, Lula’s social democratic policies jeopardize their profits. Moreover, although Brazil’s military alliance remains split, various branches of the police tend to be quite supportive of Bolsonaro. Throughout his reelection campaign, Bolsonaro has made one thing clear: either he will win the election, or the election results are fraudulent, and he will therefore not accept them. 

If the recent polls are accurate, Lula will win this upcoming round of elections. The question remains: how will Bolsonaro and the forces who support him react to this outcome?

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