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Policy Brief

The Insurrection Wave: A Comparative Assessment of Anti-Government Attacks in Germany, the US, and Brazil

29 Sep 2023
Policy Brief by Bàrbara Molas

The storming in Berlin of the Reichstag in August 2020, the US Capitol in January 2021, and the Brazilian Supreme Court in Brazil in January 2023 were all violent events where individuals and groups attempted to overthrow or challenge democratically elected governments. While the specific circumstances and motivations of each case differ, there are common action triggers, including: the widespread presence of conspiracy theories; the successful misuse of social media for anti-government mobilisation; and the mainstreaming of extremist and antidemocratic rhetoric through political legitimisation. With these three variables in mind, this policy brief conducts a comparative analysis of the elements that allowed for insurrection to happen in Germany, the US, and Brazil. This paper aims to help understand whether there are elements that make democracies especially vulnerable to violent insurrections and, in identifying them, propose ways forward to make counter-terrorism and prevention policies stronger