Since coming to power in January 2019 Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has been an extremely controversial figure, denouncing and attacking human rights, indigenous rights, and even the country’s democracy. During the COVID pandemic acrimony for Bolsonaro has increased as he called the pandemic a “little cold” and media hysteria, systematically undermining the fight against COVID-19 in on of the worst hit countries in the world. There is now a growing movement of opposition to Bolsonaro’s presidency and a public campaign and petition to remove him from office, however he has also has a large number fervent of supporters, as his populist conservatism speaks to many in the country.
So, are the calls to impeach Bolsonaro too divisive?
What positive and negative ramifications would this have for the country?
Should Jair Bolsonaro be impeached?
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There is no consensus amongst the opposition, so if Bolsonaro were to be impeached now it is likely to be a long drawn out procedure that may not go anywhere and take more time away from more pressing matters. There was a major call for his impeachment in March 2020, but there was no political will to carry this through, and the support for his impeachment was limited to a minority, with Bolsonaro’s supporters becoming only more mobilised by the calls for his resignation. Today polls show that Bolsonaro’s impeachment remains just as divisive, with only a slim margin of 2.7% in favour of impeachment (47.7% for, 45% against, and 7.3% not sure). Impeachment at this moment would be too divisive, would probably fail, and would be too costly in terms of political capital.