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On Thursday (30/03), former president Jair Bolsonaro (PL) arrived in Brazil. His return took place after three months living in Florida, United States. Bolsonaro left the country on 30 December, after he decided not to take part in Lula’s inauguration ceremony. After a series of negative events for his image – the attacks on the Three Powers Plaza; the Yanomami humanitarian crisis; and the case of the 16 million dollars jewels given by Saudi Arabia –, allies of the president informed media outlets that Bolsonaro’s return at this moment does not happen entirely by chance. According to these allies, there would be four main reasons behind his return.
The Four Reasons Behind Bolsonaro’s Return
The first is the perception that Lula has been politically weakened by a series of factors, among them statements against former judge and now opposition Senator Sergio Moro. In one episode, during an interview to portal 247, he even said that when in prison, he wanted to “screw Moro up”. In addition, there is the perception that Lula’s government still does not have a solid base in Parliament capable of approving its projects.
The second reason is the country’s economic context. After three months of government, Lula has still not managed to obtain positive results in this area. One of the main objectives is to reduce the basic interest rate, which is currently at 13.75% per year, the highest real rate in the world. Rates at this level discourage private investment, hindering job creation and GDP growth, which is one of the main objectives of the new president.
The third reason is the fact that, since his departure, the conservative right in the country would not have found any other substitute to lead the opposition to the current government. He would have returned to organize the opposition.
The fourth reason is a plan to use the former president and his wife, Michelle Bolsonaro, as canvassers during the 2024 municipal elections.
Threats on His Way
However, the forecast for Bolsonaro is not completely positive. There are still a series of investigations and other cases that can lead to his arrest and ineligibility being processed by the Federal Supreme Court (STF) and by the Superior Electoral Court (TSE).
At the STF, Bolsonaro is investigated in six different inquiries. Among the topics of the investigations are: the anti-democratic digital militias, the spread of fake news during the pandemic, the leak of confidential data about electronic voting machines, alleged interference in the Federal Police.
Within the scope of Electoral Justice, Bolsonaro responds to 16 electoral judicial investigation actions, which were proposed during the 2022 elections. Among them, there is the case that investigates Bolsonaro for meeting with foreign representatives to criticize without evidence the electronic voting machines. This action is the closest to being judged and it could result in the ineligibility of the country’s right-wing leader.
Finally, there is also a case in which Bolsonaro is investigated for illegally receiving gifts from Saudi Arabia, including a set of jewels in the value of 16.5 million dollars. The gifts included watches, pens necklaces made of precious metals and stones. They were illegally brough to Brazil and one of the gifts was apprehended by the Federal Revenue.
Bolsonaro’s presence will likely lead to an increase in tensions especially if Lula and his allies are not able to advance with his projects and show solid results, particularly in the economic area. The negative consequences could be protests, loss of support in the Congress and investigations against the government, such as a parliamentary commission of inquiry (CPI), that can destabilize the administration, in addition to slowing down important projects and reforms.