The “guardrails of democracy” and the 1988 Constitution against authoritarianism: can democracy be preserved in Brazil?

Since the campaign, then presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro showed signs of authoritarianism. To list a few, he vowed to shoot opponents, praised dictatorship-era military officials who committed torture, attacked media outlets, etc. Under the criteria proposed by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt in How Democracies Die, he averaged high in all “Four Key Indicators of Authoritarian Behavior.” Nothing has changed since he took the oath of office. He insists on assailing independent coverage (even threatening some media outlets with cuts of official funds), portraits adversaries as enemies, and achieved zero practical results so far. Nevertheless, some are noticing that different actors and institutions started to react forcefully to tentative encroachment on democracy. The paper aims to examine whether the “guardrails of democracy” (unwritten rules of “mutual toleration” and “institutional forbearance”) can survive and what constitutional strategies are available.