Conservatives and liberals join forces in Bolsonaro impeachment request

impeachment Speaker Arthur Lira: the ball is in his court. Photo: Pablo Valadares/CD/CC-BY 4.0
Speaker Arthur Lira: the ball is in his court. Photo: Pablo Valadares/CD/CC-BY 4.0

Political parties, lawmakers, social movements, and civil society organizations from both the left and the right filed a new impeachment request against President Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday afternoon. Labeled a “super request,” it merges 123 previous petitions to oust the head of state based on a total 23 crimes attributed to him — the most recent of which being his failure to investigate corruption allegations involving vaccine deals. 

The move marked a rare moment of confluence between liberal and conservative forces in Congress — with members of left-wing groups such as the Workers’ Party and the Trotskyist Workers’ Cause Party flanked by right-wing and libertarian politicians who campaigned for Mr. Bolsonaro in 2018. In all, the “super request” has 46 signatories.

Without explicitly citing the impeachment request, President Bolsonaro told supporters he has the backing of the Armed Forces to shield him from any potential ouster. “I only have peace of mind because I know I have Armed Forces which are committed to democracy and freedom,” he said, during a visit to Ponta Porã on the Paraguayan border. “We have a mission ahead of us and will fulfill it in the best possible way.”

Recent polls showing Mr. Bolsonaro and former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva well ahead of any third-way candidate could be behind this alliance. “Removing the president could be the only way to avoid the Bolsonaro-Lula dichotomy,” analyzes political scientist Mauricio Fronzaglia, a professor at São Paulo’s Mackenzie University. 

“The risk is not only of Lula winning the election, but also of Mr. Bolsonaro trying to pull a power grab, which makes his impeachment profitable for both sides of the aisle.” 

House Speaker Arthur Lira, however, is the only person who can initiate proceedings — but has shown no will to do so.