In Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro isolated in the turmoil

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in Brasilia on April 5.

Closed door. Without cameras, nor journalists. This is how the oaths of the seven new ministers of the Brazilian government were held on Tuesday April 6, resulting from the major reshuffle decreed at the end of March by Jair Bolsonaro. For once, the president, who was responsible for leading the ceremony, preferred discretion to excess and silence to noise. Sign of the troubled times that his authority is going through today.

How far away, in this early southern autumn, the blessed time of coming to power. It was in January 2019, just two years ago. The flamboyant captain, widely elected with more than 57 million votes, then landed in Brasilia. Wrapped in a green and gold scarf, the national colors, the new elected official swears his ministers in public and to the cheers. The Bolsonaro “myth” is at the peak of his aura.

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Half a term later, the contrast is striking. At the beginning of April, the populist leader is cornered. Vilified for his management of the pandemic, criticized by his allies, become an outcast on the international scene and threatened by a return of the left to power, “Bolsonaro is more isolated than ever”, notes Fernando Limongi, political scientist at the University of Sao Paulo (USP).

No more smiles and glamor. At the top of the state, the atmosphere is gloomy. “Everything is decided around a small circle of faithful”, continues the researcher. Decisions are now taken behind closed doors, in the heavy silence of the gigantic concrete palaces of Brasilia. What reinforce the lonely, even paranoid image of Jair Bolsonaro, insomniac president who sleeps with a gun on his bedside table.

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Worries and exasperation

At the heart of the criticism is the catastrophic management of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the XP / Ipespe institute, 48% of Brazilians today judge the government’s action negatively, 17 points more than six months ago. The attitude of Jair Bolsonaro, an assumed coronasceptic, is denounced by some of his closest allies. ” The cures [à la crise politique] are known and all bitter. Some are fatal! “, thus recently threatened Arthur Lira, president of the Chamber of Deputies, evoking without hiding the possibility of impeachment.

Leader of the “Centrao”, this group of small parties without ideology dominating the Parliament with which Bolsonaro concluded an alliance in 2020, Mr. Lira is also the voice of the economic elite, worried about the worsening of the pandemic . On March 21, more than 500 economists, bankers and business leaders signed an open letter demanding more effective measures against Covid-19. A first for this sector which, in 2018, voted en masse for Bolsonaro.

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