President Jair Bolsonaro announced he will join protests organized by groups that support paper ballots and are against the Supreme Court on September 7, the Brazilian Independence Day, in Brasília and São Paulo.
His presence at these events is another attack on the Judiciary, after several clashes in the past few days, including a threat to file impeachment requests against Justices Luís Roberto Barroso and Alexandre de Moraes.
In a ceremony in Cuiabá on August 19, the president said he does not intend to cause any institutional disruption, “but they [the institutions] keep on provoking us all the time”. As an example of such defiant attitudes, the president cited the arrest of former congressman Roberto Jefferson, which he believes to have been illegitimate. The arrest was ordered by Justice Moraes, who accuses Mr. Jefferson of being part of a digital militia that poses a threat to Brazilian democracy.
President Bolsonaro’s pledge to join the protests is an attempt to rally his supporters at a moment when 58 percent of voters would like to see him out of office, according to a PoderData poll. Moreover, an XP/Ipespe poll shows those intending to vote for him in 2022 fell by 2 percentage points in August – to 24 percent – while his main challenger, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, leads with 40 percent of voting intentions.
Fears are growing over a potential clash between demonstrators on September 7, especially in São Paulo, where both pro and anti-government groups have protests scheduled on Paulista Avenue. The president’s presence could increase the hostile environment and even lead to violent outbursts.