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It has been a tradition in Brazilian politics for Datafolha, the most respected polling institute in the country, to publish an opinion poll on the eve of election day, indicating the last-minute trends that will drive voters when casting their ballots. Along with that, pollsters ask people about their appreciation of democracy. In 2018, the results were heart-warming: for 69 percent of voters, it is the best system we have – the highest rate since Brazil became a real democracy, in 1985, when the question was first asked.

However, a new poll conducted by Datafolha, just two weeks later, shows a different picture. The rate of Brazilians who are prone to accept an overbearing state with authoritarian powers has dramatically risen since 2008.

</span></p> <hr /> <p><img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-10219" src="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/export-CpRzf-1024x646.png" alt="Brazilians want democracy… with an authoritarian government" width="1024" height="646" srcset="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/export-CpRzf-1024x646.png 1024w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/export-CpRzf-300x189.png 300w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/export-CpRzf-768x484.png 768w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/export-CpRzf-610x385.png 610w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/export-CpRzf-460x290.png 460w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/export-CpRzf.png 1300w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" /></p> <hr /> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">More and more Brazilians believe that the government should have the power to torture suspects, shut down Congress, ban political parties, or intervene in trade unions. These findings beg the question: how can you support democracy and, at the same time, defend an authoritarian state?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">&#8220;It has a lot to do with how Brazilians see democracy,&#8221; says political scientist Carlos Melo, a professor at São Paulo&#8217;s Insper business school. &#8220;People usually associate democracy with the electoral process but are not so into individual liberties and respect for minorities. From a conceptual standpoint, having these contradicting positions makes no sense. But considering the incipient political culture in the country, we understand where this comes from.&#8221; </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Brazilians, according to Mr. Melo, still don&#8217;t fully understand how democratic institutions should work. &#8220;Many still believe that the Chief Justice is who dictates the way the Supreme Court will decide on issues. Well, there are 10 associate justices &#8211; but people tend to overlook that.&#8221; </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The presidential role is also surrounded by an imperial aura, as if it were above the other branches of government. </span></p> <h2>Is democracy at risk?</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For half of Brazilian voters, the country risks falling into another dictatorial regime, only 33 years after the generals ended their 21-year stint as the rulers of the nation. The numbers, of course, are not similar at all when we analyze Jair Bolsonaro&#8217;s and Fernando Haddad&#8217;s voters separately. </span></p> <hr /> <p><img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-10220" src="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/export-awM22-1024x283.png" alt="Brazilians want democracy… with an authoritarian government" width="1024" height="283" srcset="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/export-awM22-1024x283.png 1024w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/export-awM22-300x83.png 300w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/export-awM22-768x212.png 768w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/export-awM22-610x169.png 610w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/export-awM22.png 1200w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" /></p> <hr /> <p><img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-10221" src="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/export-3uFFK-1024x683.png" alt="Brazilians want democracy… with an authoritarian government" width="1024" height="683" srcset="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/export-3uFFK-1024x683.png 1024w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/export-3uFFK-300x200.png 300w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/export-3uFFK-768x512.png 768w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/export-3uFFK-610x407.png 610w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/export-3uFFK.png 1200w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" /></p> <hr /> <p><img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-10222" src="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/export-ajOxR-1024x292.png" alt="Brazilians want democracy… with an authoritarian government" width="1024" height="292" srcset="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/export-ajOxR-1024x292.png 1024w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/export-ajOxR-300x86.png 300w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/export-ajOxR-768x219.png 768w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/export-ajOxR-610x174.png 610w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/export-ajOxR.png 1200w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" /></p> <hr /> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to Carlos Melo, part of the fear is also resentment after a bitter campaign that has been marked by blows below the waistline and Mr. Bolsonaro&#8217;s refusal to take part in debates. &#8220;But the truth is that our democratic pact is at risk because neither side trusts that the other defends democratic values,&#8221; says Mr. Melo. Right-wing voters believe that the Workers&#8217; Party wants to install a Venezuelan-like regime in the country &#8211; despite the party&#8217;s 13-year stint in power without ever threatening democracy.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">&#8220;If the Workers&#8217; Party&#8217;s era taught us anything, is that our government&#8217;s checks and balances can work. Dilma Rousseff&#8217;s impeachment and the trials of politicians who committed crimes, including Lula, are the proof,&#8221; he says.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With Jair Bolsonaro, however, it is impossible to know right now. &#8220;The proof, as the British say, is in the pudding. He&#8217;s a new force with military credentials. While the military has, traditionally, had an undemocratic role in Brazil throughout history, we can&#8217;t say that a Bolsonaro administration will fall into an authoritarian regime,&#8221; says the political scientist. &#8220;At least not right now.&#8221;

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PowerOct 20, 2018

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BY Gustavo Ribeiro

An award-winning journalist with experience covering Brazilian politics and international affairs. His work has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets.