President Jair Bolsonaro is not a democracy-friendly politician. Even before taking office in 2018, the far-right agitator suggested that Brazil’s problems could be solved by military coup, civil war, or even torture. “We have to kill over 30,000 people,” said Mr. Bolsonaro back in the late 1990s, suggesting that the Brazilian military dictatorship — of which he is nostalgic — didn’t quite go far enough.
Mr. Bolsonaro is also a former Army captain, giving the president a link with a powerful and well-to-do institution, informally vested with protecting Brazil’s democracy but never doing a good job of it.
The seeds sowed with Mr. Bolsonaro’s election are now sprouting. The president has engaged in a tireless attack of Brazil’s 100-percent electronic voting system, claiming — without proof — that an otherwise estimable platform is susceptible to fraud. He has given every indication that he will not accept October’s election result, unless it goes his way. And the military appears to be on his side.
Instead of bringing peace to the polarized political discourse, the military has endorsed Mr. Bolsonaro’s wild accusations, willfully assisting him in his attempt to discredit electoral institutions.
At the end of April, Supreme Court Justice Luís Roberto Barroso said Brazil’s Armed Forces are being “instructed” to attack the credibility of the country’s electronic voting system, and that there is a concerted effort to bring the military into “petty politics,” which he called a “tragedy” for democracy — remarks met angrily by the Defense Ministry.
In other words, Brazil has reached a political boiling point in which people are unsure of exactly how or when the 2022 electoral process will end. And the military’s involvement plays a large part in this uncertainty.