With former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva leading President Jair Bolsonaro in the polls for the next Brazilian election (set for next October), the embattled populist leader has called for his supporters to hold rallies similar to the Trump rallies that helped the American president secure his hist initial electoral upset over Hillary Clinton.
The president's supporters took to the streets in some of the biggest cities including the Brazilian capital of Brasilia on Tuesday to express support for Bolsonaro, whose popularity has slipped due to his handling of the pandemic. But fortunately for both Bolsonaro and his supporters, the president has launched a campaign against a handful of Supreme Court Justices whom he claims have surpassed their authority.
Also, in what the FT described as a 'Trump-like move', Bolsonaro has also launched a scorched earth campaign to turn the public (or at least his supporters) against several Supreme Court justices. Remember, it was the Supreme Court that freed Lula, who now appears set to win back power from Bolsonaro and return Brazil back to the control of leftist crypto-socialists in the Worker's Party, the party of Lula and his protege, former President Dilma Rousseff, who was booted from office amid a corruption scandal that greatly diminished her popularity and - many believe - opened the door for Bolsonaro.
The FT reported on a recent poll from the Atlas Institute, released earlier this week, which showed that Bolsonaro's "rejection rate" - ie the level of moderate to intense admonitions has risen to 61%, while his popularity has slipped to just 24%.
Bolsonaro's biggest political problem is that the political instability and straining health-care system during the COVID era has prompted the business community to turn against Bolsonaro, whom they now fear is 'bad for business'.
Investors, executives and other denizens of São Paulo's Faria Lima avenue, known as the Brazilian version of Wall Street, quietly admit that they're worried Bolsonaro and his decisions have scared away foreign investors, which is a serious problem for the financial elite in the country.
By now, it should be clear why Bolsonaro needs to double down on his efforts to maximize support in other segments of his base. They will serve as evidence that Bolsonaro's team can circulate that contradict Globo and the rest of the Brazilian press, which are expected to fixate on reports of Bolsonaro's waning popularity.
Footage from one rally on Tuesday shows Bolsonaro got exactly what he wanted.
🇧🇷 President Jair #Bolsonaro upped his attacks on perceived enemies including the Supreme Court and the electoral system on Tuesday.— FRANCE 24 English (@France24_en) September 8, 2021
As @WassimCornet explains, he vowed to defend supporters' "freedom" as #Brazil experiences rival pro- and anti-government rallies ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/ONxUi2j0Zy
Thousands more marched yesterday to mark Brazil's "Independence Day" holiday.
Amusingly, at least one "expert" on Brazilian politics told Newsweek that Bolsonaro's Tuesday rally seemed like a stepping stone toward something akin to President Trump's "Stop the Steal" rally on Jan. 6 in the Capitol.
Another accused Bolsonaro of using "fundamentally anti-democratic".
Gabriel Brasil, political risk analyst for Brazil at Control Risks, told Newsweek that the rallies were "mostly anti-democratic in terms of their agendas and rhetoric."
If these criticisms seem a little premature, that might be because Bolsonaro has a year in office to go, and has plenty of time to campaign. Indeed, heated rhetoric like this from the left might risk backfiring. To wit, there are still plenty of working class people in the country who support Bolsonaro. '
Alcio Burke, a former truck driver from the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, said he drove 2,000km to Brasília to show support for the president.
"They need to let him do his job. The [Supreme Court] is surpassing the limits of its responsibilities. They need to act within the four lines of the constitution,” he added.
Eliezer do Rosa Lorentz, who said he travelled 12 hours to reach São Paulo from the central-western agricultural state of Mato Grosso do Sul, said he wanted to see a new congress and the removal of Supreme Court judges.
“They don’t represent us in any way,” he added, as demonstrators filled the city’s main thoroughfare.
Another Bolsonaro warned that they didn't want Brazil to end up "like Venezuela."
Meanwhile, as the fearmongering continues, the Guardian warned yesterday that Bolsonaro might be planning another "military coup".
The Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, and his allies could be preparing to mount a military coup in Brazil, according to an influential group of former presidents, prime ministers and leading public figures on the left.
An open letter claims rallies that Bolsonaro followers are staging on Tuesday represent a danger to democracy and amount to an insurrection modelled on Donald Trump supporters’ attack on the US Capitol on 6 January.
They assert the nationwide marches by Bolsonaro supporters against the supreme court and Congress, involving white supremacist groups, military police, and public officials at every level of government, are “stoking fears of a coup in the world’s third largest democracy”.
Expect a lot more baseless fearmongering as the campaign between Lula and Bolsonaro heats up.