Bolsonaro makes a U-turn, challenges Brazil’s election defeat to Lula

After a long wait, the President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, has challenged his election defeat to Lula. The president and his allies are calling for the nullification of the election on grounds that results from older models of the voting machines could not be trusted.

“There were signs of serious failures that generate uncertainties and make it impossible to validate the results generated in older models of the voting machines,” Bolsonaro’s complaint reads, adding that results from such machines should be “invalidated.”

Bolsonaro had always criticized the electronic voting system operated in Brazil, describing it as a fraud. When he failed to concede defeat after last month’s run-off election, many thought his next move would be to challenge the outcome of polls. To the surprise of his protesting supporters and other observers, two days after the election, the 67-year-old said he would uphold the country’s constitution and authorized a peaceful transition to former President Lula.

“I have always been labelled undemocratic, and unlike my accusers, I have always respected the framework of the Constitution,” Bolsonaro said after last month’s run-off election. “As President of the Republic and as a citizen, I will continue to respect all the commandments of our Constitution.”

The sudden U-turn now appears ill-timed as it would be difficult to take his words back after a transition process has already begun.

An ill-timed decision

Following Bolsonaro’s earlier approval to transfer power to his rival, the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) ratified Lula’s victory at the polls. Should Bolsonaro have challenged the election result earlier, the possibility that the court would listen to him would have been higher. He will now be facing the difficult task of overturning an election that has been certified satisfactory.

Reuters reported that the current head of the TSE, Alexandre de Moraes, told Bolsonaro and his men to provide a full audit for both rounds of the presidential election within 24 hours, or the request would be thrown out.

Although Bolsonaro’s request will unlikely go through, it could fuel limited protests across the country as his supporters have not accepted the election results.

“Bolsonaro endorses his party’s challenge of the October 30 election he lost to Lula. It won’t succeed, but things could still get rocky in coming weeks as pro-Bolsonaro protests continue & some in his party push for radical next steps,” Brian Winter, a Latin American political analyst, wrote.

Punish Bolsonaro, Lula’s party says

Lula’s workers Party has described Bolsonaro’s recent move as an attempt to deceive the court, and he should be punished for it.

“Bolsonaro’s action at the TSE is chicanery that must be punished as bad faith litigation,” Gleisi Hoffman, leader of the opposition, said. “The election was decided by the vote and Brazil needs peace to build a better future.”

Other political parties in Brazil have described Bolsonaro’s complaint as baseless and an attempt to destroy democracy in the country. To others, there are fears that if Bolsonaro insists on remaining in power, Brazil could face economic and political instability as political chaos will become inevitable.


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