Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has been peddling claims that the country’s voting system is highly vulnerable to fraud.
The intensity of these claims has increased as the 2022 Elections approach. In a recent radio interview, the far-right populist said that the public counting of votes is needed.
Analysts believe that Bolsonaro is preparing to contest next year’s elections, however plummeting approval ratings show that there is a low chance of him getting re-elected.
Daniela Campello, a professor of politics at Brazil’s Getulio Vargas Foundation, believes that the President is following in the footsteps of Former US President Donald J. Trump.
“The more he realizes he’s not going to win, the more he realizes he has nothing to lose”, the professor said.
The Eurasia Group consultancy on Thursday wrote that the chances of the election not being accepted are less than 5%, but that a contested election would most likely follow “the US script” with “potential for violence” and “exacerbated polarization and distrust in state institutions”.
Bolsonaro praised Trump during the US President’s time in office, even though the relationship was not reciprocal.
He publicly backed the Republican’s claims of election fraud in the 2020 US elections, even going so far as to repeat the claims to White House national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, who visited Brazil last week.
Bolsonaro, a former army captain, recently claimed to have proof of fraud in Brazil’s 2018 election on live television. Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes has placed the President under an investigation for “fake news”. If found guilty of spreading misinformation, he could be banned from participating in the 2022 elections.
He has failed to provide any serious evidence backing his claims, however. During an interview with a right-wing radio show he admitted that he did not have proof. “We don’t have proof, I’ll make it clear, but we have clues,” he said.
Opposition senators have been reacting harshly to Bolsonaro’s behavior. “I don’t know what’s worse: a president so stupid that he believes in WhatsApp conspiracy theories or such a scoundrel who invents WhatsApp conspiracy theories,” Alessandro Vieira, a senator with the centrist Citizenship Party, said.
Even though Brazil’s Association of Federal Criminal Forensics Experts issued a statement saying there were no issues with Brazil’s electronic voting machines that have been used since 1996, the President still refuses to back down from his claim.
He has now rallied around an amendment that would adopt printed ballot receipts to be counted physically in the case of voting disputes. Experts have widely blasted this method as far more vulnerable to fraud and vote-buying than the current system.
The printed ballot measure was recently defeated in a congressional commission. But Bolsonaro’s allies still plan to take it to a vote on the House floor, where it is expected to be defeated again.