Post elections: a walk in the centre of Porto Alegre-RS-Brazil

I belong to the generation that took the streets to march for the “Diretas Já” in 1984, having grown up under the military regime. Perhaps, many of those who today march and sing the famous song “Marcha Soldado, cabeça de papel [Soldier march, paper head ]”, saluting in the streets of Porto Alegre and other cities of Brazil, don’t even remember this period of history or really understand what they are asking for. I register a clear cognitive dissonance between those who are there exercising the right to peaceful demonstration and the content of the allegations that they make, in front of the military units, expressing their disagreement with the election.

This would be acceptable, if it were not for the request for federal intervention. Otherwise, let’s see: the cited constitutional norm (Art.142, repeatedly and mistakenly interpreted by the protesters) does not talk about “new elections” or even about a military action in the Judiciary. The narratives are so dubious that they suggest a constitutional rupture, revolution or coup d’état, with the right to a bizarre attempt at communication with aliens (yes, this happened in Porto Alegre) and even – amazingly – a Nazi salute in Santa Catarina, a neighbouring state to Rio Grande do Sul, in (yet another) a vexing scene for all of us. All properly registered on social networks, for those who are interested.

As if that were not enough, there is a call for federal intervention (an euphemism for military intervention, which is an undemocratic act), assuming that the Armed Forces have the constitutional power to take the presidency. We are talking about someone who may not please almost half the electorate, but who was legitimately elected by the majority (with a small margin of advantage – 50.9% to 49.1% – it should be noted), without proof of any electoral fraud, in a safe and reliable system, where the electronic ballot box is a reference with regard to the use of technology in electoral processes.

In Porto Alegre, in the middle of the flags waving in the city’s military area, next to the main command of the capital, stronghold of the post-election Bolsonarist resistance, a modest house displays the prophetic graffiti “Fora Bozo”, giving the silent message to the neighbours and passersby that unanimity do not exist, anywhere.

As I continue this solitary walk, I see that there are still many “patriots”, dressed in green and yellow, colours “adopted” as a symbol of Bolsonarism. Aren’t we all green and yellow? We all need to be green and yellow (regardless of sectoral and party politics), in an environment of polarisation that will not quickly disappear, if there is no enough goodwill and conciliatory spirit. We need to reunite the country and to find a balance in the search for solutions to improve the lives of Brazilians.

In 2022, unlike four years ago, when the same system declared the then-candidate Bolsonaro victorious, the ballot boxes “failed”, according to conspiracy theories. But they were the same ballot boxes, strangely questioned nowadays, when the voting result is not favourable to this or that. “Call in the army,” shout the nonconformists. The 2018 elections, won by Bolsonaro, saw a growing wave of uniformed candidates: almost a thousand candidates of different ranks stood for election and 73 of them were elected to national and state parliaments, according to research by journalist Fabio Victor in his recent book “O poder camuflado” (2022). Since then, the politicization of the army barracks and the militarization of the upper echelons of government have been increasing, setting a dangerous precedent for our young democracy.

Without any “camouflage”, officers exercised public functions while still on active duty, confusing their state career with government functions. Thus, the permanence of the uniformed officers in the political arena is not something recent, it was already part of the process of re-democratisation of the country after the dictatorship, and helps to explain the current state of affairs, according to the cited journalist. In fact, few measures were taken to limit its influence and its interests were largely preserved, making the military issue still one of the challenges for the balance of institutions in our society.

“Supreme is the people”, it can be read in a banner in Porto Alegre, a double reading sign, addressed, in a critical tone, to the Supreme Court. It is worth remembering that this denomination only establishes that it is the highest within the structure of the Judicial Power, without superimposing itself on the other powers. Thus, I can only understand that the demonstrators camped on the pavement of the main barracks of the Rio Grande do Sul capital are saying the obvious: power emanates from the people, yes, it is in our Federal Constitution (1988) as the principle of popular sovereignty which, paradoxically, they want to give up calling the army to “intervene”. After 21 years of military regime in this country, we already know very well how it works. Those who do not know should study history a little more, perhaps reading Rousseau (1973) in order to understand that the liberties of each one should be respected, as long as the decisions are in favour of the will of the majority, and sovereignty is aligned with the people. At this point, we already know what the people have decided, and a new page will begin to be written on 1 January 2023, with and for all Brazilians.

It remains for the opposing party to accept and do what is also its right, that is, to adopt a posture of constant democratic oversight in its opposition, ensuring compliance with the laws, for which we are all responsible. And let it be understood, once and for all, that the Federal Intervention foreseen in the Constitution cannot be used to modify the result of a democratic election. The mechanism is only used in some specific situations, and none of them contemplates the discontent or the non-acceptance of the result. Let’s dismantle the tents around the barracks, the contacts with the ETs, the roadblocks, the cursing and the generalized hatred – we need to advance in a peaceful and rational manner, and this will only happen when we manage to return to debate in a civilized manner, also dealing with those who think differently.

Text and images: Madeleine Müller

Published on 07-12-2022


Brasil. Constituição da República Federativa do Brasil de 1988. Presidência da República.

Rousseau, J.J. (1989). Discurso sobre a origem e os fundamentos da desigualdade entre os homens. Editora Universidade de Brasília; Editora Ática.

Victor, F. (2022) Poder camuflado: Os militares e a política, do fim da ditadura à aliança com Bolsonaro. Companhia das Letras.



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