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Autocratic legalism: a debate on the use (or abuse) of the right of free speech to hurt the media in Jair M. Bolsonaro's government

Grant number: 21/04527-0
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): December 01, 2021
Effective date (End): November 30, 2022
Field of knowledge:Applied Social Sciences - Law
Principal Investigator:Diogo Rosenthal Coutinho
Grantee:Laura Ustulim
Host Institution: Faculdade de Direito (FD). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


Authoritarian legalist leaders are those who come to power through elections and use, abuse - or do not use (non-use) - the constitutionally provided rights to their own advantage or to the advantage of the Executive Branch. These leaders are supported by populism, a global phenomenon that tries to occupy the space of constituent power, especially when inserting a direct representation. In this sense, the movement stumbles upon an institution that is at the core of contemporary democracies: the media, which is, to a large extent, responsible for mediating the relationship between ruler and ruled. In Brazil, the relationship between the current president Jair Messias Bolsonaro (no party), and the media, evidences the non-democratic characteristic of his government, as well as a change in the perspective of democratic crisis - no longer caused by military coups followed by dictatorships. This research project seeks to demonstrate how, as a Brazilian case of authoritarian legalism, Jair Bolsonaro's government uses (or abuses) the right to free speech to target the media. In order to understand how Bolsonaro manipulates such rights to attack the media, it is imperative to analyze the characteristics common to authoritarian legalist leaders, as well as the limits of freedom of expression. Hence, the president's speeches and pronouncements - which, between 2019 and 2020,- directly insult journalism, will be mapped and analyzed through keyword searches on the internet, articles by third parties, and from institutions that have already initiatives in such expertise, in particular, the V-DEM institution; how Bolsonaro manipulates the right to free speech to do so will be discussed as well.(AU)

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