Will Roussef’s Political Move End the Protests in Brazil?

That's true. The government was forced to withdraw the idea early on Tuesday. Officials are now discussing the possibility of enacting reform through a referendum.

In the meantime, the Movement Against Electoral Corruption (MAEC), one of the NGOs that proposed the three changes detailed above, is pushing for reform in another way. The Brazilian constitution includes a provision for direct action by the people. If 1.5 million citizens—one percent of the electorate—sign a proposal, congress must vote it. The MAEC is now recollecting those.

Both options to pass political reform point to a more complicated issue that will probably contribute to the protests' survival, according to Sotero.

"They are symptomatic of the situation in Brazil," he said. "They are both forms of direct democracy. That is, they are not the traditional way in which a representative democracy usually works. Because of the wide nature and the anger of the protests, direct democracy has become and seems to be the only game in town."

The Brazilian movement is highly fragmented and horizontal. Despite the presence of groups like the Free Fare Movement, it has no clear leaders and follows no specific orders. And since there are no individual leaders or organizations taking decisions, nothing stops small groups or numerous individuals from maintaining the protests alive even after the government answers most of the demands put forward by the largest groups.

In all likelihood, the demonstrations will continue, in a subdued form, for at least a couple of weeks. They could grow once again or ultimately fade, and their subsistence will ultimately depend on the political mood and what the government does in the coming days.

"This is a situation that requires leadership," Sotero said, "so the question is: Will Dilma or any of the leaders of the opposition rise to the occasion?"

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