A few months after Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment, the PP president saw an opportunity. Ciro Nogueira said that his project was to make the acronym a Brazilian version of the US Republican Party. After years within PT governments, the idea was to present a right-wing party, openly conservative and defending liberal values in the economy.
The adhesion of the acronym to Jair Bolsonaro accelerated this project. In consortium with other parties in the center, the PP began to fulfill a role similar to that of the party that elected Donald Trump: it endorsed the president’s populist agenda, accommodated his radical movements and began to offer institutional support to his coup threats.
The centrão started the government in conflict with the Bolsonar shock troops that arrived in Congress in 2019. Today, the two groups are on the same side, with the mission of keeping the president in power.
The main politicians in the center have always been on the right – even when they supported the PT or simulated some resistance to Bolsonaro’s plans at the beginning of the government. What determines the behavior of these actors is not their convictions, but the access they have to the vaults and corridors of power.
After PP, PL and Republicans received a free pass to these spaces, the three parties started to support Bolsonaro through the conservative path. In the Civil House, the current minister Ciro Nogueira said that Lula’s victory in October would represent a “return to backwardness”. Arthur Lira recalled, in an interview with the newspaper Valor Econômico, that he leads a center-right Congress.
This trio of parties also reinforces the political framework Bolsonaro uses in his attacks on democracy. The Lira Chamber covers up extremists in the service of the president, while Valdemar Costa Neto’s PL should serve as a legal vehicle for contesting the polls.
Bolsonaro has not been able to create his own right-wing party, but he has helped the center to take that brand.
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