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President Bolsonaro threatens top Brazilian judges

In front of thousands of sympathizers, during pro-government rallies in cities of Brasilia and São Paulo, Bolsonaro opened the registers of his collision course rhetoric a little further. If the highest judges don’t back down, he warned, “something might happen to them that we don’t want.”

Hundreds of thousands of Bolsonaro supporters responded to the president’s call to take to the streets on September 7th, Independence Day in Brazil. The day would be ‘decisive’, he had said in advance. In what way, that also remained unclear on Tuesday. With a year ahead of the elections and falling popularity figures for months, Bolsonaro is waging an increasingly harsh verbal battle against the Brazilian institutions.

In the morning, during a speech in the capital, Brasilia, and threatened that the high courts if you want you can come over in the afternoon, he promised his supporters in Sao Paulo, and that “only God,” take him away out of the palace. “I never go to jail!’, he exclaimed, referring to a series of investigations that are running against him, including from the Supreme Court. In Brasilia he also said that he would hold a crisis Council the next day to discuss the state of the country.

The bombast announcement of the pro-Bolsonaro day resulted in new threats, even more suggestions of violence, of an uprising, of a confrontation between camp-Bolsonaro and ‘they’ or ‘those bastards’, anyone the president considers his enemies. During the pandemic, he scolded state governors for introducing coronavirus measures. For months now, the High judges have been paying the price.

On the one hand, because this spring they annulled the charges against his political rival, the former left-wing president Lula da Silva. On the other hand, because they are targeting the president himself, among other things because of his increasingly baseless attacks on institutions such as the electoral system and the judiciary.

Since taking office in 2019, Bolsonaro has been struggling for his presidency. His blunt style and conservative nationalist rhetoric are echoed by some Brazilians, and in polls he still has support from a 30 percent of the population. The former military also has a solid base in the army (he filled a large part of his cabinet with officers) and the Federal Police and can count on pragmatic political support from a large block of center politicians in Parliament.

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