Elections and senior politicians have criticized Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro after the far-right leader called foreign diplomats to the presidential palace and made unfounded claims about the integrity of the upcoming election.
Bolsonaro told them that the electronic voting system in Brazil, which has been used without controversy since 1996, was vulnerable. The remarks raised concerns that the populist politician – with poor poll results – could try to discredit the democratic process if he loses in October.
The baseless allegations were immediately refuted by Brazil’s Supreme Electoral Court (TSE), the body that oversees elections.
The TSE issued a list of 20 refutations of Bolsonaro’s statements, and the president of the court, Edson Fachin, called them “unacceptable denial of elections”.
“It’s time to say enough about this misinformation,” Fachin said. “It is also time to say no to authoritarian populism.”
The Senate president also rejected Bolsonaro’s claims, saying there was “no just cause or reason” to question the effectiveness of the election process.
“The National Congress, whose current composition was elected under the modern electoral system, is committed to confirming to the people that the electronic ballot boxes will give the country a faithful representation of the people’s wishes, whatever they are,” said Rodrigo Pacheco.
Bolsonaro’s decision to increase criticism in front of a foreign audience may be linked to his poor performance in the polls.
Most give former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva a double-digit lead, and his supporters are optimistic that he can even win the first round and avoid a detour.
The first round takes place on 2 October, with possible run-off planned for 30 October.
Bolsonaro, a supporter of Donald Trump, has previously questioned the reliability of electronic ballot boxes even after winning easily in 2018, and he later tried to pass a law requiring a return to paper ballot papers.
This attempt was ruled unconstitutional in 2020, and a new attempt to include paper ballot papers along with the electronic votes was rejected by Congress a year later.
His speech to diplomats on Monday included attacks on judges and TSE officials who will be charged with verifying the outcome of the election, not only for the president but also for Congress and 27 state governors.
The address also focused on an investigation from 2018 of an attempt to hack the electoral system. An official investigation established that there was no risk to the count or the results.
Bolsonaro restricted media access to his 30-minute speech in Planalto, the presidential palace. However, it was broadcast live on state television, prompting some opposition representatives to claim that they would prosecute him for misuse of public resources.
Lula said it was a pity that Brazil does not have a leader who is more interested in problems such as jobs, development and hunger. “Instead, he’s lying about our democracy,” Lula said twitret.