Presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro speaks with journalists on September 4, 2018

When it was announced, the official government program of presidential frontrunner Jair Bolsonaro drew puzzled looks from the electorate. Unlike those of his peers, Mr. Bolsonaro’s manifesto consists of a PowerPoint presentation, with 81 slides, each one with a sloppier design than the one which preceded it. The grammar is poor, it is littered with exclamation points, and the content is, in the end, incredibly shallow. It has the air of a high school project, and not a good one at that.

Instead of being on the campaign’s website, the government plan is hosted on the website of Carlos Bolsonaro, one of the candidate’s sons. The page also comes with the mysterious title “Project Phoenix”, a moniker that doesn’t appear anywhere in the document and has never been referenced since.

Perhaps the reason for the Bolsonaro program seeming so threadbare and improvised is that it is not their actual government plan. Brazilian online magazine Crusoé gained access to a 111-page document which is reportedly being used by Mr. Bolsonaro’s campaign as their true election program.

Containing proposals yet to have seen the light of day during the campaign, the document is a fascinating read, promising “special attention” to the military, increasing their salaries, pensions and making careers in the Armed Forces more attractive. There is also a reference to a potential increase to the “insufficient” budget of the Ministry of Defense.

Mr. Bolsonaro also intends to make changes to the composition of the Executive and Legislative branches, shrinking the cabinet and reducing the number of members of parliament. The campaign of the far-right former Army captain has already discussed reducing ministries, but these proposed changes are detailed for the first time in this exclusive manifesto.

The environment ministry is to be scrapped, becoming a responsibility of Agriculture. A Super-ministry of the Economy is also slated for implementation, a merging of Finance and Planning, of which Chicago School libertarian Paulo Guedes will take the reins. Education, Sport, and Culture will become one ministry. The General Counsel for the Federal Government will lose its ministerial status.

Proposals could spark conflicts with the political establishment

Some of the most notable proposals, included in this 111-page document but yet to have been voiced in public, involve the Congress. The Bolsonaro campaign intends to reduce the size of both houses, cutting down the number of representatives from 513 to 385, and shrinking the Senate from 81 to 54 (meaning each state will only have two Senators, instead of three). The program also calls for an end to the jurisdictional prerogative of elected officials. Currently, those in office can only be put on trial by high courts. Mr. Bolsonaro’s plan is to reserve this luxury for the President, the Speaker of the Senate, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Further on in the government plan, there is a sly mention of immigration, and a proposal to “promote a responsibly restrictive policy of access to Brazil for foreigners from certain countries which do not share the same ideals,” presumably a response to the Venezuelan migrant crisis in Brazil’s North. The same section mentions the need to “develop refugee camps in a controlled manner,” something the Bolsonaro campaign has already publicly discussed.

Elsewhere, in an admitted reference to Venezuela, the text mentions that Brazil cannot be “militarily demobilized and unprepared,” saying that the country must prioritize the task of “dealing with” its neighbors to the north, “cautiously but incisively.”

Whether a potential President Bolsonaro would be able to implement any of these proposals remains to be seen. The vast majority would require ample support within both chambers of Congress. However, the document obtained by Crusoé gives a much clearer idea of Mr. Bolsonaro’s plans for the country if elected, as opposed to the glorified pamphlet submitted to the electoral courts and made available to the public.

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BY Euan Marshall

Euan Marshall is a Scottish journalist living in São Paulo. He is co-author of A to Zico: An Alphabet of Brazilian Football.