Make no mistake, folks: Jair Bolsonaro managed a clear victory on Sunday. 55 percent of valid votes is a lot for a polarized country, especially for an extremist candidate. Furthermore, Mr. Bolsonaro’s allies snatched control in many states, including the country’s four richest (São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul). The far-right also elected a major congressional front – something that neither the Workers’ Party nor the Brazilian Social Democracy Party managed to do. The message is clear: there was a colossal vacuum in power. And there isn’t anymore.
This was not, by no means, a normal election. Nor was it won by a normal candidate. Therefore, we shouldn’t expect a normal presidency. It is frightening, yet expectations are also immense. President Bolsonaro will have a fragile legitimacy and little room for error. And there are many signs that he will make mistakes. Here’s what I expect from the future President Bolsonaro:
There will not be a coup (at least, not for now)
Mr. Bolsonaro is a proto-fascist, as I’ve written before, but there’s no evidence suggesting he will take power and launch a coup d’état, dissolving Congress and so forth. This just doesn’t happen anymore – and not even textbook fascists did this. The risk, of course, is in the medium term, as institutions could quickly deteriorate – as they have in Venezuela, Turkey, Hungary, just to name a few.