As the Brazilian government continues to deal with the aftermath of the riots led by many fervent Bolsonaro supporters, analysts believe that the right-wing movement will likely continue without the former President captaining at the helm.

The Brasilia riots that happened on Jan. 8 as an attempt for the country to instigate a military coup against newly-elected President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was done without the prompting of former President Jair Bolsonaro, who has been hiding in Florida since his term ended. Many analysts believe this to be a sign that his movement will continue on without him, according to the Associated Press.

Many of the people who supported Bolsonaro are conservative-leaning, who may have nostalgia for the days when Brazil was under a military dictatorship, or who admired his willingness to embrace conservative values and Christian beliefs in the government, ABC News reported.

“Bolsonaro brought the spirit of patriotism and family values back to the people, and now we have to unite to keep fighting,” Daniel Bressan, who was arrested for participating in the riots, said. “From Bolsonaro himself, we don’t expect anything.”

Bolsonaro himself has largely stayed away from the limelight since the end of his term, and many were reportedly disappointed when he distanced himself from the actions of his supporters in Brasilia. Comparisons have been made between him and U.S. President Donald Trump, who was present during the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, and who goaded his supporters on in their invasion of the building.

“Trying to distance himself from what happened causes him to lose his link to the base that coordinated these attacks,” political scientist Guilherme Casarões said. “The attack in Brasilia was a shot in the foot and weakens Bolsonarismo as a personalist, radical movement, its two fundamental characteristics.”

While his party continues to plan for him to be the face of the opposition against Lula, his continued absence as well as the increasing amount of investigations laid out against him has made many also question those plans in the future.

Analysts believe that the more radical right-wing segment of the population is mostly using Bolsonaro as a springboard figurehead for the more radical beliefs that they subscribe to and that eventually, the movement may leave Bolsonaro behind.

“Bolsonaro isn’t the principal leader,” right-wing schoolteacher Alberdan Souza said. “He is the guy who caused a surge for the right and for the feeling of Brazilian patriotism, but the movement is much bigger than Bolsonaro.”

Jair Bolsonaro
Ex-president Jair Bolsonaro denies his involvement in the ransacking of government buildings. Photo by: AFP/Mauro Pimentel

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