Friday, March 16, 2018

Support for Military Rule in Brazil

For quite a while, the Latin American Public Opinion Project has documented the weak support for democracy in Latin America, which is troubling.

A recent poll shows 43% support in Brazil for a provisional return to military rule. Younger people support it more than older, which makes sense because of course older people remember what it was like. From The Washington Post:

“This sentiment is in the air and is being exploited. The intervention in Rio is an attempt by the president to explore that feeling — the nostalgia, the feeling that the military is an anti-political, tough, external body,” said Pablo Ortellado, a public policy professor at the University of Sao Paulo. “Depending on how the intervention goes, if it succeeds in even appearing to reduce crime, it could generate a dangerous wave of militarism.”

This is all so familiar. When I was in graduate school in the 1990s, I was immersed in the literature on civil-military relations, which discussed anti-political thought (here is a great example), popular support for the military, the military's belief in its role as savior, and the disintegration of presidential systems under the weight of political polarization. Fortunately, we no longer have the Cold War as a backdrop, but we are talking about the same things again.

Most Latin American militaries are back in the barracks, or at least mostly so. We need to keep them there. At this point, my hunch is that the Brazilian military has no interest in intervention, and nothing good will come from trying to change that.


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