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Will we witness a new Arab Spring in Brazil after Bolsonaro's loss?

Lula's supporters celebrate the victory in the Cinelandia square in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Octuber 30 , 2022. [Fabio Teixeira - Anadolu Agency]
Lula's supporters celebrate the victory in the Cinelandia square in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Octuber 30 , 2022. [Fabio Teixeira - Anadolu Agency]

Twelve years ago pro-democracy protests, commonly known as the Arab Spring, shook the Middle East and North Africa challenging some of the region's entrenched authoritarian regimes. But what about Brazil, the country that experienced one of the most integrity elections in the world and was regarded widely as evidence that Brazil is indeed one of the world's great democracies?

Since Jair Bolsonaro's lose in a second-round run-off, where he achieved 49.1 per cent of the vote on 30 October, millions of the former president's followers flooded the streets across 400 cities to protest against his defeat at the hands ofleftist leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and to highlight their rejection of what they allege is the judicial interference in the election. More than 200 roads and highways were blocked by the protesters who called for a return of military rule.

They have also been airing their anger online using the hashtag #BrazilianSpring.

Speaking to MEMO, Latin America affairs specialist Ali Farhat said this hashtag "expresses a change in the thoughts of a large segment of Brazilian society that was always known as a non-biased democracy," but "if we look deeper into these protests, it is just a show rather than an effective step. Neither the hashtags nor demonstrations will be able to change the results of the election, especially when most countries around the world, the Catholic parties, the Supreme Court and even the far right parties have welcomed Lula as president."

According to Farhat, "These internal protests in Brazil do not meet the political and legal legitimacy, and therefore even many Bolsonaro supporters and allies rejected these movements. A large number of media channels and social platforms described these protests as anti-democratic."

The minister of the Federal Supreme Court (STF) Alexandre de Moraes called on the highway police to take all necessary measures to clear blocked roads by protests, warning of fines reaching 100,000 reais ($19,306) per hour per vehicle. This led to the governors of three largest states quickly clearing the roads to end the protests.

"One of the most common slogans that was raised in the demonstrations is asking for military intervention, and this reflects the lack of knowledge and absence of the pain that most Brazilian people tasted before, during the military rule from 1964 till 1985," Farhat explained.

READ: Brazil's most popular leader is president once again

"It is a systematic policy to marginalise the left-wing party for a very long time and transform the culture and identity of Brazil into a completely different direction. Therefore, the first request that Bolsonaro's supporters asked through demonstrations and blocking roads is using power and absenting the importance of democracy and respect of other parties."

Yesterday, the Ministry of Defence sent a 63-page report to Brazil's electoral authorities after days of speculation that it would back claims by right-wing Bolsonaro that the election was rigged. The report reaffirmed the findings of other reports from all inspection entities, indicated that there was no suspicion of fraud or inconsistencies in the electronic voting machines in this year's electoral process.

According to Farhat, the results of the elections in Brazil did not only show Lula's victory, but it "also revealed the real crisis of the Brazilian society that occurred in the country for four years ago, which is the political and religious fanaticism caused by Bolsonaro's rule."

The 2022 elections report has come to an end, however, social networkers and political activists are still debating the election integrity and watching accounts of Bolsonaro supporters on Twitter. A Brazilian political commentator even requested help from Twitter owner Elon Musk and the billionaire promised to investigate the alleged censorship. "I will look into this," Musk replied.

Twitter had previously suspended the accounts of some of Bolsonaro´s supporters, such as deputies Carla Zambelli, Gustavo Gayer, Nikolas Ferreira and others in response to an undisclosed legal demand. This echoed the situation of former US President who saw his Twitter account suspended after inciting supporters to invade the Capitol in January 2021 after the end of the US presidential elections.

On 30 October Brazil once again proved that it is indeed one of the world's great democracies. Raising suspicions without evidence, blocking roads and going out in demonstrations are just obstructing the path of true democracy without any benefits. But Bolsonaro's supporters continue to believe mistakes have been made, so will we witness now see a new Arab Spring in Brazil after his loss in the polls?

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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