Brazilian Election Authority to Investigate Bolsonaro over Baseless Fraud Allegations | Brazil
Brazil’s highest electoral authority has launched a counteroffensive against Jair Bolsonaro’s Donald Trump campaign against the country’s electoral system by announcing that it will investigate its potentially criminal spread of allegations of baseless electoral fraud.
Bolsonaro has stepped up his long-running crusade against Brazil’s electronic voting system in recent weeks, apparently hoping to energize his supporters at a time when his grades are plummeting due to his handling of a Covid outbreak that has killed nearly 560,000 Brazilians.
Speaking to supporters on Sunday, the populist leader warned that next year’s presidential election – which polls suggest Bolsonaro would lose to left-wing rival Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva – might not take place if the physical ballots were not reintroduced.
Bolsonaro launched a similar threat last month, leading another leading left-wing rival, Ciro Gomes, to urge the international community to signal that “the untimely death of Brazilian democracy” would be intolerable.
Last week, Bolsonaro, who has a long history of undemocratic exaltation, sparked outrage by using public television to make unsubstantiated allegations about past elections which Bolsonaro himself said were unfounded.
“There is no way to prove whether the elections were rigged or not,” Bolsonaro conceded on the rambling two-hour show.
The transmission, which was followed by a series of pro-Bolsonaro protests on Sunday in which staunch supporters demanded the introduction of printed ballots – prompted a firm response from Brazil’s Superior Electoral Court (TSE) on Monday. .
The court voted unanimously to open an investigation into the allegations of electoral fraud by Bolsonaro and ask the Supreme Court to include the president of Brazil in an investigation into the dissemination of fake news due to “criminal behavior possible ”on Bolsonaro’s TV show.
In a combative speech, the president of the TSE, Luís Roberto Barroso, declared: “Threatening the realization of an election represents undemocratic behavior… To pollute the public debate with theories of disinformation, lies, hatred and conspiracy represents undemocratic behavior.
“Bad things are happening in our country and we all need to be vigilant,” added Barroso, whom Bolsonaro recently called a fool and a fool.
Barroso made no explicit reference to Bolsonaro but the target of his remarks was clear. In an editorial, the Rio O Globo newspaper praised efforts to counter Bolsonaro’s crusade against Brazil’s internationally renowned electronic voting system, which it called “nothing more than an attack on democracy”.
“Bolsonaro is shamelessly lying to be able to challenge the election result in case he is beaten next year, just like Donald Trump did in the United States,” O Globo warned.
Brazil’s electronic voting system was implemented in 1996 and has been widely praised for helping to eliminate fraud and speed up election results in a vast country more than 2.5 times the size of India. According to the TSE, more than 147 million voters in 5,567 municipalities used more than 400,000 voting machines to vote in municipal elections last year.
Bolsonaro’s attempts to undermine confidence in the system – which echo Trump’s ‘stop the theft’ campaign and similar efforts by right-wing Peru presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori – predate his landslide election in October 2018.
In a campaign interview in April of the same year, Bolsonaro’s political son Eduardo told the Guardian he feared his father would lose the presidential race due to vote rigging involving electronic machines. . “The fear of the TSE to introduce paper ballots shows that, as they say here, there is a dog in that forest over there,” he said, alluding, without proof, to a high level political conspiracy.
Seeming to confuse electronic voting machines with paper ballots, Eduardo Bolsonaro added: “There are many stories of open ballot boxes at the start of the day and there are already votes for such and such a candidate.