In recent days, doubts about what will happen on the 7th of September, the day on which Brazil’s Independence is celebrated and which appears in the national calendar of holidays of our Republic, have gained breath. Newspapers are following ever more earnestly to monitor the escalation of events towards the holiday. Specialists begin to follow more often groups in support of the president who, disguised as Democrats, threaten to take to the streets willing to impose a semblance of freedom at any cost. Ordinary citizens make the supermarket to be able to protect themselves at home, protecting themselves from any type of violence that might happen. Meanwhile, the country’s capital, in the middle of the weekend, has its hotels full, as well as news and rumors of bus caravans that travel with patriots in defense of the pro-coup speech of those who support the invasion of the Supreme Court and Congress.
What will happen on the 7th? At this hour, it doesn’t matter, as it’s a rhetoric we shouldn’t waste time on. It already happened, this is the point. It would be more productive to ask on what other September 7th in the last few decades since redemocratization did a debate similar to the one that exists today took place? I can advance the answer: none. Thus, whether or not there is going to be a coup, what you have is already a lot.
Just predicting that “there will be no coup” is as sterile as the relativizing speeches that have served to calm public opinion about the robustness of our democracy since Jair Bolsonaro ran for office and assumed the presidency. It’s irrelevant too. It should no longer be necessary to list every day the reasons why we should worry about what we are going through, as tireless political analysts have done. Ignoring the “I am the Constitution”, “my army”, “September 7 will be an ultimatum”, ignoring the shelving of processes by public authorities in favor of the president, failing to take into account the increasingly less timid political demonstrations of commanders of barracks and the silence of the military of the high command of the Armed Forces are unacceptable errors that could not occur in a country whose history has the authoritarian past that Brazil has. Pretending that it doesn’t matter is the denial of political science. You see all the evidence, but in the name of unshakable faith, it is said that nothing will happen to democracy. Already happened.
Public opinion polls, those whose sieves are approved by the research entity that regulates the institutes and not by the aunts and uncles of the zap, show that 20 to 25% of the Brazilian electorate supports the President of the Republic. Among which, it is possible to point out a type of profile: men, evangelicals, from interior cities, “entrepreneurs” (new entrepreneurs?), with an average income between 2 and 5 minimum wages and very little education. In fact, today, and unlike 2018, the more educated, the less chance there is to support the president. If we explore further, we will be able to observe that within this group there is one with a more specific character and that has been dedicated to supporting any initiative of the president of the republic. When I say any, I mean praying to the chloroquine box or yelling that the vaccine comes with a chip, as if scientists were going to spend hours of work developing microchipped vaccines in record time to track who.
This group is represented by roughly 10% to 15% of survey respondents. Identifying these groups is far from foolproof, but part of any analysis is really intuitive. However, they can be facilitated with questions of the type that Genial Quaest Consultoria e Pesquisa has asked, such as “thinking of the country’s economy as a whole, you would say that in the last year the economy of Brazil (…)”, “what is your level of concern about the COVID-19 pandemic?” and monitors such as “feminist movement is overdone”, “gay/lesbian demonstrations bother” and “weapon purchases/facilitated access”. In any case, this is not an irrelevant percentage in a population of almost 148 million voters.
Even more when they are inflated and stirred up all the time by the president himself and his children. So for a supporter of the president, to invade Congress, the Supreme, to support the arrest of a high court minister for doing the job of defending the Constitution, is also “democratic” and part of the much-worn notion of “ freedom of thought and expression”, completely out of touch with reality and dysfunctional. Therefore, asking them if they want to live under a dictatorship or if they value democracy is not enough to respond to the challenge of this moment.
The fact is that the possibility of coup and authoritarian abuse has already been inoculated in part of society. Just as distrust and fear about what is happening have already advanced on the social fabric. These variables, although intangible, are real and measurable. Proof of this is the amount of research and surveys aimed at capturing these perceptions of people, in which the question about living in democracy is once again a monitoring indicator.
We will have a lot of work to do to rebuild public policies of the last 30 years and offer minimum dignity to a needy population. Efforts will also be needed to recover the flanks they made in our democracy. The next government will be to start this work. And it will last longer than one. Anyone who doesn’t take this seriously is out of the picture.
Carolina Botelho she is a doctor in political science, a researcher at the Cognitive and Social Neuroscience Laboratory/Mackenzie and an associate at Doxa/Iesp/UERJ.
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