Like many of its neighbours, there have been growing pains and setbacks in Brazil’s democratic institutions for decades but the blatant and open conspiracy designed to prevent Brazil’s former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (known as Lula) from stepping back into the Presidency represents a watershed moment in the decline and fall of Brazil’s weakened democratic institutions. It was Lula’s intention to stand in next month’s Presidential elections in spite of being imprisoned for corruption charges that are seen as purely politically driven by millions of Brazilians.
While the authorities had already used the long arm of the stage to prevent Lula from having access to the public in order to conduct a normal campaign, now Brazil’s top electoral court has formally prohibited Lula from participating in the election. Lula’s popularity and clear front-runner status meant that had he been allowed to participate in the election, he would have won with comparative ease. While Lula attempts to appeal the decision his Workers Party may rally around Fernando Haddad, a strong supporter and former colleague of Lula.
However, the election which under normal circumstances would have been a shoe-in for Lula is now open to competition by Jair Bolsonaro and Marina Silva. Bolsonaro tends to present himself as an upstart who will ride a right wing populist wave to power. But many believe that Bolsonaro is little more than the public face of a stealth military coup that would fundamentally run the country under the pro-armed forces Bolsonaro. Also in the competition is long time political chameleon Marina Silva who tends to have the backing of the liberal elite in Washington.
In either case, the biggest man in contemporary Brazilian politics looks to be out of the race barring a last minute intervention from Supreme Court judges. Ever since the controversial impeachment of Lula’s right hand woman Dilma Rousseff in 2016, Brazil has been sleepwalking into a deep state dictatorship wherein the guises of trappings of democracy are allowed to be conducted by where the real power rests in an infamously corrupted bureaucracy, politicised judges and if top generals get their way, the military also.
In many respects an election without Lula is little more than a competition between the pro-military candidate Bolsonaro and the pro-bureaucracy candidate Marina Silva while a would-be replacement for Lula would face an uphill battle due to not having any official visibility in the campaign until the proverbial 11th hour.
Not only is Lula’s status as a political prisoner bad for Brazil’s internal democracy but it is also bad for the country’s economic interactivity with its Asian partners. While Lule was Brazil’s President when the country formed the BRICS partnership with Russia, India, China and later South Africa, neither Bolsonaro nor Marina Silva have particularly strong credentials when it comes to embracing geo-economic multipolarity in order to diversify and help expand Brazil’s economy.
Thus, while Lula offeredBrazilians a real chance to transform a clearly broken political status quo, the other candidates in the race are little more than Matryoshka dolls whose exterior hides a hollowed out core filled by the small men and women of the collective deep state oligarchy.
As the largest country in Latin America, Brazil became something of a trendsetter under Lula. Under the current system which is depriving the country of its clear desire to re-elect Lula, Brazil is now a case study in a failed, dying and now effectively dead democracy.