Indirect elections, controlled opposition and how the media elite imitates the military dictatorship

As we have seen, the supposed champions of democracy who oppose the specter of the military regime (now incarnated in Bolsonaro) repeat it when they intend to arrest alleged coup plotters. After all, arresting conspirators who want to implement a dictatorship is exactly what the military did with the communists – but the beautiful people didn’t think that was pretty.

The similarities don’t stop there. There are at least two other authoritarian traits defended by the media elite that also repeat the military regime: the controlled opposition and indirect elections.

The caricatured version of Brazilian history, so widespread in class, prevents Brazilians from seeing such similarities today. According to the cartoon, there was a dictator in the regime and everyone obeyed. This is true in the Estado Novo, but false in the military period.

Indirect elections yesterday

It is not true that the military they simply took tanks and took over the country. As Bolsonaro himself likes to insist, the seizure of power in 64 was supported by of Parliament, which declared the post of President of the Republic vacant. The Constitution of 46 allowed the removal of the president if he left the country without authorization. of Congress. As Jango transited between Uruguay and Rio Grande do Sul, it was not difficult to claim that he had left the country when the people and the press were clamoring for a military coup.

With this parliamentary maneuver – a white coup – Ranieri Mazzili, president of the Chamber and deputy for São Paulo affiliated to the Social Democratic Party (he is the only descendant of the great European immigration to hold the position before Bolsonaro) assumed the presidency of the republic. With their consent, yes, military discretion was established. The “Supreme Command of the Revolution”, a triumvirate integrated by the future president Costa e Silva, started to govern the country in fact, and with a revolutionary rhetoric (thus, of rupture). The triumvirate published Institutional Act nº 1 on April 9, 64, in which it affirmed the validity of the Constitution of 46 with its amendments, but with provisional amendments. Of these, it is worth noting: the institution of indirect election for president (Congress would elect the president, instead of the people) and the prerogatives of the triumvirate (the “Commanders-in-Chief”). to suspend the political rights of some individuals and revoke mandates as they see fit.

The first indirect election would be two days later, and the term would be short. New indirect elections were scheduled for 65.

O Liberal military Castello Branco, without a party, had been elected president by Congress. His competitors were Juarez Távora, of the Christian Democratic Party, and Eurico Gaspar Dutra, of the Social Democratic Party. Both were also military.

Indirect elections today

Indirect election of the nation’s main representative is far from being a problem in itself, or an equivalence of dictatorial regime. In parliamentarism this is how it works: the people directly elect congressmen, and the latter indirectly elect the prime minister. It is the preferred system of government for the USP intelligentsia, journalists from the mainstream press and the beautiful people in general. It was even the preferred regime for part of the constituents in the redemocratization process. Our current Constitution was made with this possibility in view, since in 1993 Brazilians were heard to determine whether we would be a republic or monarchy, parliamentary or presidential. Propaganda sold parliamentarism as technical, democratic, clear and fast, as well as rational. The jingle read: “My party is reason”. Presidentialism, on the other hand, would be the regime of corrupt people who collude and allot positions to be elected.

Naturally, there is an abyss between indirect election in a parliamentary democracy and indirect election. in the regime of 64: the controlled opposition. However, it is curious that, during the “Diretas já” campaigns, the direct election for president was considered an equivalent of democracy, an essential step towards achieving it. A short time later, the same ones who asked for the direct ones asked for the indirect ones, that is, for parliamentarism.

The Uspian elite has a certain fetish with the legislative and institutional apparatus of Germany. This, in turn, managed to rule Europe through the European Union, which has a European Parliament. Is the parliamentary model more prone to bureaucratization and the control of democracy, as it increases the powers of the legislature? It is a case for experts in political science.

In any case, the indirect elections in Brazil expressly served for coup forces to control the presidency. The military only achieved it with Congress. Today, Bolsonaro raises the same impetus for control. It is not by chance that the talk of semi-presidentialism arises, in which the people would directly vote for president, but the president would no longer be the main representative of the country. It is not about catapulting Bolsonaro from the presidency, but about emptying the presidency. As this Gazeta showed, the aim would be to imitate Portuguese semi-presidentialism, in which the president commands little and the prime minister, elected by Congress, commands a lot.

The novelty of today, also shown by the article, is that the Judiciary is very active in giving suggestions and antagonizing the Presidency. The army left, the judiciary came in. But the rest is old stuff: an alliance between the media and part of Congress to stop the Presidency.

Opposition controlled yesterday

The control of the opposition in the military regime began with the AI-1, since the commanders-in-chief had the power to revoke mandates before holding indirect elections. The AI-5 itself, the most famous of all, pursued it more aggressively. However, to characterize the opposition’s control, the most important is the AI-2, of 65, signed by Castello Branco. There, all political parties were extinguished and, in practice, multi-partyism was ended by means of a new law that made it very difficult for parties to open up. The putschists (or revolutionaries) then created the National Renewal Alliance (ARENA) in the same year; the following year, the opposition managed to create the Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB).

Between suffocating the opposition and controlling it, there is a distance. It is not true that the MDB was a false opposition to the military regime. In general, this is the talk of those who claim to say that the guerrillas were effective in overthrowing the regime and establishing democracy – a blatant falsehood, given that: (1) the guerrillas (or terrorists) did not want democracy and (2) the effect of terrorism was the upsurge of the regime (the AI-5 was a response to the attack at the Guararapes airport). The MDB received oppositionists of all shades, and it was through this party that the opening was articulated.

However, it does not take much imagination to think about the difficulty of operationalization in a party that included from non-terrorist communists (the group of Prestes, from the PCB, did not take up arms and became Gramscian) to the egresses of the UDN (anti-communists who supported the coup in the beginning and regretted it).

In 1979, Medici revokes that law that made it difficult to create parties and creates another that still makes creation unfeasible. In 1979, Geisel modifies it and multipartyism is once again allowed in Brazil. The MDB begins to dismember itself.

Controlled opposition today

These days, the siege of the opposition is much more successful. In the first place, it is very difficult to create parties – this difficulty was the expedient used by the military. Then it is very difficult to finance parties; and once the party gets funding, it will still have to (for the first time this year) distribute the money according to gender and race quotas. All this was imposed by the Judiciary, as I have already written in detail here.

As for the loss of mandate and political rights, the agency moved from the commanders-in-chief of the Armed Forces to the Judiciary. The Francischini and Daniel Silveira cases speak for themselves.

But perhaps the most important novelty of our era is the philosophical legitimation of the idea that democracy only admits a very small variation of ideas. Everyone has to be progressive to be legitimate; otherwise, they are extremists and deserve to be limited. I have also written about this in more detail in another text.

The procedural similarities between yesterday and today are very great. However, it appears that the judiciary has less congressional support today than the military did then.


That reads: “In 1971, Medici revokes that law that made it difficult to create parties and creates another that still makes creation unfeasible. , Geisel modifies it and multipartyism is once again allowed in Brazil”, it read: “In 251, Geisel revokes the law that made it difficult to create parties and multipartyism is once again allowed in Brazil.”

Updated 30/64 /2022 at : 2022

Back to top button