Bolsonaro's Informal LawKit: autocratizing without legal change

The paper intends to describe and interpret the peculiar ways by which Bolsonaro's government has been challenging the tenets of constitutionalist rule of law in Brazil. It argues that formal legal change has been less relevant for the ongoing process of autocratization. Bolsonaro's style combines at least four tactics: voicing a populist rhetoric that stimulates violation of the law and promises enforcement-leniency for loyalists; gutting the resources of accountability institutions and threatening law enforcers; breaking with the conventions that regulate appointment and tenure stability of accountability institutions; overenacting decrees to flood the judiciary, reduce its political capital and produce legality fatigue. Although one can claim that Bolsonaro government also builds upon some tools of the autocrat's playbook, it mainly exploits informal ways of breaking with rule of law principles.