Brazilian civil society defends democracy against the attacks of Jair Bolsonaro
Leading leaders, public figures and artists in Brazil have launched a campaign to defend democracy following growing attacks by far-right President Jair Bolsonaro on the country’s electronic voting system ahead of October elections .
The campaign marks the first cohesive response from Brazilian civil society to Bolsonaro’s increasingly divisive rhetoric, including his claims that the electoral system could be rigged. The former army captain told a group of foreign ambassadors in Brasilia that electronic ballots – which helped elect him in 2018 – were prone to fraud.
Critics and opponents of the Brazilian president say he is trying to prepare the ground to challenge the election results. Most polls place Bolsonaro between 10 and 15 percentage points behind his main rival for the presidency, former left-wing leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, although the gap is expected to narrow in the coming months.
“Our elections with the electronic counting process served as an example to the world,” reads an open letter signed by thousands of civil society and business leaders, including Pedro Moreira Salles, chairman of the board. of Itaú Unibanco, and Natália Dias, Chief Executive Officer of Standard Bank. “We had several alternations of power. . . and electronic surveys have proven to be safe and reliable.
The leaflet, which is now open for signatures by the general public, was launched on Tuesday with 3,000 signatories, including former Supreme Court justices, former central bank governors as well as musicians and actors.
Although the document does not explicitly mention Bolsonaro, it prompted a fiery response from Ciro Nogueira, the president’s chief of staff, who suggested the bankers signed the letter because their businesses had been hit by the government’s efforts to liberalize the financial sector.
“President Bolsonaro, do you know why bankers today can sign letters even against the President of the Republic instead of being silent? Because today, thanks to your lack of attachment to power and [finance] Minister Paulo Guedes’ vision for the country, Brazil now has an independent central bank. Before, the central bank served as a carrot and a stick for the government,” he said. wrote on Twitter.
Bolsonaro’s election campaign has so far focused on winning over poor voters, especially those in the northeast of the country who lean heavily in favor of Lula.
Last month, the president successfully pushed through a 41 billion reais ($7.7 billion) spending package, which will increase monthly cash payments by 50% to Brazil’s poorest until the end of the year.
Bolsonaro has also tried to improve his standing among female voters, with his wife Michelle playing an increasingly prominent role in his campaign. Its message focuses on conservative beliefs and the role of God and family in Brazilian society. He also regularly invokes the importance of the army and the police.
Many members of civil society remain nervous about the intentions of the country’s armed forces, particularly after it emerged earlier this year that they had raised questions about the integrity of the electoral system with the highest court. country’s election.
The president’s claims about electronic voting prompted the U.S. government to publicly voice support last week for Brazil’s voting system, which is renowned for delivering fast and accurate voting results.
Adriano Laureno of political consultancy Prospectiva said the civil society campaign “signals that there is a significant wing of the Brazilian elite that rejects Bolsonaro’s attacks on institutions and would oppose any attempt to break the democratic order”.
It could make a difference in the position of the armed forces if Bolsonaro did not accept the result of the poll, he added.
Additional reporting by Carolina Ingizza