The elections in Brazil have halted the increasing erosion of democracies in the West for the time being. The rule of law in the world’s fifth-largest country has held its ground.
by Alexander Busch, Latin America correspondent for Handelsblatt and Neue Zürcher Zeitung
Brazil’s democratic institutions have earned top marks in recent days: Three hours after the polling stations closed, the election results were known on Sunday – in the world’s fifth-largest country with 215 million citizens. By comparison, in the midterm elections currently taking place in the U.S., the final result is not expected for days.
In Brazil, immediately after the results were announced, the leaders of the Chamber of Deputies, the Senate and the Supreme Court declared that the election had been clean and that there was no reason to challenge the results. It is highly unlikely that the result will be questioned in the judiciary after all. At the same time, the bureaucracies and politicians in Brasília have smoothly begun preparing for the transfer of power.
Even when radicalized supporters of Bolsonaro blocked the highways in the days after the elections because they believed the elections to be rigged, the Supreme Electoral Court always maintained control of the situation: It ordered the security forces to crack down – which they did. Numerous influential supporters of the president and election loser Bolsonaro from politics, business and society called for an end to the protests.
These demonstrations have currently lost momentum, although there could well be further unrest before the transfer of power on January 1, 2023. The transfer of power could still be bumpy. The close result of the elections has left many of Bolsonaro’s supporters in Brazil disappointed.
Another positive aspect is that Brazilian democracy is showing signs of dynamism. The shift to the right in society that has taken place in recent years has now also reached Congress and the institutions. In contrast to some democracies around the world, such as in Europe, Brazil’s political system is showing itself to be integrative. New political actors have the chance to reach the levers of political power through democratic elections.
After a long time, this is once again good news from the global south, which few had expected.