Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro founded a new political party in November as he faces a noisy divorce with the Social Liberal Party (PSL). Since the beginning of his political career as a councillor in Rio de Janeiro in 1989, Bolsonaro has been a member of another seven political parties, in addition to PSL. To compete in the presidential elections, he joined the PSL, along with his sons Eduardo and Flavio.
The relationship has come to a messy end now. Bolsonaro was recorded stating that PSL President Luciano Bivar would be “burned out” while telling a supporter to “forget about the PSL”; his son Eduardo was embroiled in a battle for the PSL presidency in the House of Representatives; and, the party was hit by a candidacy scandal involving embezzlement and the Minister of Tourism, Marcelo Álvaro Antônio.
The launch of Bolsonaro’s new party, Alliance for Brazil, was held at the Royal Tulip Hotel in Brasilia on November 21. To be formally able to run an election, there is still a long way to go. It is necessary first to fulfil obligations established by the electoral legislation and to collect 500,000 signatures in Brazil, something that he is expected to do with ease.
The initial ideology of the Alliance already allows us to visualize the fundamentals of the new political party. The text provides an insight into the new party, and of course, it certainly has not divorced from the reactionary Bolsonaro that we have become accustomed with. The party “demands” the members to “defend life from conception,” “guarantee of access to weapons,” “defense of the family as an essential core of society,” “combat any ideology that seeks the eroticization of children,” “combat attempts to legalize illicit drugs,” and to “fight communism Globalism,” among other things.
Of course, he never offered a solution to the severe economic crisis in Brazil. What helped him be elected was to distract Brazilians over the struggle of identity politics rather than the ailing economy. It appears he will run on the very same platform, despite the massive 11.8% unemployment rate and the informal employment rate reaching a record high of 41.3%, which represents 38.6 million Brazilians.
Essentially, Bolsonaro’s new party is an attempt to repeat the National Renewal Alliance, the official party of the military dictatorship that ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985. The target audience of Bolsonaro’s party is effectively Brazilians with the same reactionary ideology whose counterparts in Bolivia forced the coup of Evo Morales and have continued to serve U.S. interests in Venezuela against President Nicolás Maduro.
The first clues that Bolsonaro is wanting a return of the dictatorship era is his push for changes in the rules of the Law and Order Guarantee operations to ensure an “exclusionary of illegality” for security forces that serves to prevent violent protests. The exclusion of illegality is an old campaign promise from Bolsonaro but was recently barred by the House of Representatives working group that analyzes the anti-crime package presented by Justice Minister Sergio Moro. Effectively Bolsonaro is attempting to militarize security forces in Brazil under the guise of preventing violent protests, despite Brazilian protests being overwhelmingly peaceful and usual have a party/samba vibe to it.
The Federal Prosecutor’s Office for Citizens’ Rights of the Federal Prosecutor’s Office (MPF) classifies the presidential proposal as “blatantly unconstitutional and unparalleled, even compared to the institutional acts of the military dictatorship.” The illicit exclusionist is an attempt to tarnish and eliminate the Brazilian Constitution, which has excelled in fighting inequality. Bolsonaro’s push for changes in the law allows police to freely kill without impunity, as has recently occurred in neighboring Bolivia.
Despite the possible problems that may arise from the point of view of representation, Bolsonaro will probably lead deputies, senators, mayors, councillors and other politicians from other parties to join his cause. As Bolsonaro is president, he will be able to attract these politicians and vast resources to his new political party. The fate of the PSL party fund, a very rich fund at that, remains open. Politicians who follow Bolsonaro and are allies of the Alliance want to bring their resources to the new party. This is crucial to the future and survival of the party of the initiative. The dispute over the appeals will likely be judicialized. Another legal point that must be considered is that politicians who leave their respective political parties may lose their mandate.
Although the Alliance does not have a sound economic plan and rather allows “the market” to dictate it, Brazilians in their hundreds of thousands, if not millions, are likely to become members of this new political party. With Bolsonaro nearing one year into his mandate, he has done nothing to alleviate poverty, corruption and suffering in Brazil. However, he has been successful in distracting much of the population with identity politics under the guise of defending Christian values. With this thinking permeating in Brazil, it is likely that his new party will be highly successful, despite the clear threat of Bolsonaro wanting a return to the years of Brazil’s dictatorship.