Attacks on Brazilian Parliament: Another Example of Right-Wing Extremism in the World?


Two years have passed since the whole world experienced the detrimental attacks of right-wing extremists in the U.S. Capitol Hill led by the Proud Boys, Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and Neo-Nazi terrorist groups and other white supremacists. The horrid attack, which occurred on the 6th of January 2021, jerked the world with a new grip on influencing the uprise of right-wing extremism in many countries. Induced by the erstwhile President Donald Trump, the attack was intended to make the then US election questionable and give rise to outrageous turmoil and thus, dispossessing the Biden government of the power. However, no doubt that this course by the time has brought about grave spillover effects in many countries like Brazil, Italy, Israel and so on. In this regard, Brazil is the country that recently underwent the same violent occurrence led by right-wing extremists of the Liberal Party of Jair Bolsonaro.

To talk about the incident in Brazil, after Jair Bolsonaro lost the 2022 presidential election in Brazil, on January 8, 2023, a throng of his supporters inundated the federal government buildings with riots in the nation’s capital, Brasilia. In an effort to violently thwart the democratically elected president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (Lula), who had been sworn in on January 1, the mob broke into and deliberately damaged the Supreme Federal Court, the National Congress building, and the Planalto Presidential Palace in the Three Powers Plaza. Per the statements of a large number of protesters, ‘their goal was to pressurise military leaders to stage a coup d’état and obstruct the democratic power shift.’

The assault, however, took place one week after Lula da Silva’s inauguration to power. Although at the time of the assault, Bolsonaro and Lula were not present in Brasilia, Bolsonaro has been accused and was the main inducer of the horrendous mob against democracy. After Lula came into power, Bolsonaro’s supporters had conducted egregious turmoils and attacks in the national buildings for several weeks. The Brazilian security officers had to spend more than five hours clearing the protesters from all three buildings. By the time, in reaction to the attack, Lula issued a decree authorizing a state of emergency in the Federal District till the end of January 2023 Despite not being in session when the assaults transpired, Congress quickly ratified the declaration by 10 January.

Bolsonaro and His Right-Wing Political Base

As a politician, Bolsonaro was a member of the Social Liberal Party under which he was elected as the 38th president of Brazil in 2018 and served from 2019 to 2022.  Going beyond the basic tenets and commitments about people’s rights pledged by the previous party, Bolsonaro turned his Social Liberal Party into a conservative party, cutting ties with its mainstream facet. In 2021, he officially entered the conservative Liberal Party which is mainly deemed as a far-right extremist party. However, Bolsonaro represented the state of Rio de Janeiro in the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies from 1991 until 2018 and before that he was a retired military officer. In talking about his political bases, he worked as a member of diverse right-wing parties such as the Social Christian Party, the conservative Liberal Party and so on. Therefore, as a far-right politician, he has always been vocal against abortion, same-sex marriage, drug liberalization and more importantly, ‘secularism.’

However, in foreign policy, holding similarity to his political bases, Bolsonaro has been very closed with the U.S.A of Donald Trump and Israel of Benjamin Netanyahu which leaders persuasively persuaded him with right-wing extremism. Being influenced by the domestic far-right parties and external far-right leaders such as Netanyahu and Trump, he has long been striving to corner the left-wing parties and leaders. However, regarding this development some analysts argued that ‘to save his political base after losing the election, Bolsonaro’s approach to staging a coup d’etat has proved how much incited he was by Donald Trump, the white supremacists and violent groups of the USA.’ Along with his political preceptor Donald Trump, Bolsonaro has also been infamous for his policies against climate goals, democratic values and so on. At last, the populist leader and his bigoted followers reached the highest level of extremism on January 8, conducting the nefarious mob against the democratic regime of Lula da Silva resulting in the wound of 40 people of which 6 were seriously injured.

– Kawsar Uddin Mahmud is a Research Intern at the KRF Center for Bangladesh and Global Affairs (CBGA).

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