Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s attempt to challenge the election he lost last month appears weak on substance, according to election experts and political analysts, but could still spur supporters to protest his defeat.
In a complaint filed with the Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) on Tuesday, Bolsonaro’s allies argued that votes from certain machines should be ‘invalidated’, citing signs of ‘malfunction’ and questioning his rival’s victory from left Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Giuseppe Janino, one of the creators of Brazil’s electronic voting system, said the complaint appeared to focus on machine logs that have no bearing on voting results.
“This is nothing more than another attempt to discredit the electronic voting system that has worked well, electing governments for 26 years in our country and contributing to our democracy,” Janino told Reuters.
The complaint was met with skepticism by electoral authorities and other political figures who acknowledged Lula’s victory.
Brazilian Senate leader Rodrigo Pacheco said the election result was “indisputable” while the center-right Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB) called Bolsonaro’s challenge “insane”.
When the PSDB challenged the result of the 2014 presidential election, the investigation lasted a year and no irregularities were found.
Vice President Hamilton Mourao, on a trip to Portugal, acknowledged on Wednesday that Bolsonaro’s challenge was unlikely to succeed, but said Brazil’s electoral process needed more “transparency”.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Bolsonaro’s Liberal Party leader Valdemar Costa Neto repeated allegations of alleged flaws in voting machine logs in the second round of elections, but said such flaws do not had not been found in the first round.
The machines used were the same in both towers.
As Costa Neto spoke, the party’s website was inundated with messages from people calling for military intervention against Lula’s return to power.
“SOS Armed Forces”, said many of them.
“Bolsonaro’s style is always to be confrontational, and this challenge is obviously a way to keep his far-right supporters mobilized,” said political strategist Luiz Flavio Guimaraes.
He said the right-wing Liberal Party provided no evidence of fraud when it filed the complaint.
Analyst Andre Cesar of consultancy Hold Legislativa said the challenge would provide ammunition for an ongoing protest movement by hardcore Bolsonaro supporters.
“His arguments are flimsy but it will serve him to keep the most radical of his supporters mobilized, ensuring that they will continue to make noise outside army barracks,” he said.
Diehard Bolsonaro supporters camped outside military bases to protest Lula’s victory which they say was “stolen” by election fraud and calling on the military to intervene.
Their numbers have dwindled in recent weeks and there were no immediate signs of recovery on Wednesday, but the challenge could give them a boost, some said.
- Brazil’s Bolsonaro disputes vote result
- Bolsonaro attacks Brazil’s election system
- Bolsonaro launches Brazil re-election bid
- Brazil’s Bolsonaro officially launches re-election bid, says army on his side
- Brazil judge rejects ex-president Bolsonaro’s attempts to overturn election