Trailing in the polls, Bolsonaro attacks Brazil’s electoral system

By Eduardo Davis

Brasilia, Aug 2 (EFE).- With Brazil’s elections set for Oct. 2, polls show former two-term President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva 15 percentage points ahead of incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, who seems to be laying the basis for refusing to accept the results by continuing to attack an electronic voting system that has functioned smoothly for nearly three decades.

The official start of the campaign, Aug. 16, is still two weeks away, but Lula has been working assiduously for months to solidify a broad progressive coalition and even to woo conservatives fed up with the rightist president, whose political role model is Donald Trump.

Bolsonaro, a reserve army captain and outspoken admirer of Brazil’s 1964-1985 military regime, has long sought to cast doubt on the reliability of electronic voting, which has operated without incident since its introduction in 1996.

Indeed, Bolsonaro has won five terms in Congress and the presidency under that system.

Two weeks ago, the president harangued more than three-dozen foreign ambassadors about the “suspicions” arising from electronic voting.

Those comments were widely repudiated, including by business leaders who supported Bolsonaro in 2018.

Three Brazilian media conglomerates issued a joint statement Tuesday condemning attempts to sow doubts about the voting system and asserting the indispensability to democracy of a free press and of the “rule of law based on respect for electoral results.”

Bolsonaro, 67, has been hinting that he may refuse to accept the outcome of the election, as Trump did in the United States after losing the 2020 vote to Joe Biden.

The president responded Tuesday to the chorus of disapproval by dismissing the signers of the various manifestos as “some bums” and insisting that his only aim was to ensure “liberty” and “truth.”

“Nobody wants a coup,” Bolsonaro said, while adding that the armed forces will “oversee” the elections despite the electoral court’s categorical rejection of military involvement in the process.

He also said that voting for Lula would expose Brazil to the risk of the “failure” caused by “communism” in countries such as Argentina and Venezuela.

Brazil is now contending with inflation and rising rates of both unemployment and poverty, as pointed out by Lula, whose 2003-2011 tenure as president saw average annual economic growth of 4 percent and significant progress in reducing poverty and hunger.

“This country grew, generated jobs, distributed income, created universities, technical schools, raised salaries, took care of the poorest people, which is what a leader should do,” the 76-year-old former president said recently at a rally. EFE ed/dr

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