Brazilian democracy is under threat, says head of electoral court – Reuters

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro takes part in an event with members of the Liberal Party and supporters as he presents his candidacy for the next presidential election, in Brasilia, Brazil, March 27, 2022. REUTERS/Andressa Anholete/File Photo

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BRASILIA, April 1 (Reuters) – Brazilian democracy is being “threatened,” Edson Fachin, the president of Brazil’s electoral court (TSE), said on Friday, saying the country faced “a turbulent period” ahead of a fraught October presidential election.

Fachin’s comments come as polls show President Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right former army who has repeatedly questioned the credibility of Brazil’s electronic voting system, narrowing the gap on leftist frontrunner Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s lead.

Bolsonaro’s baseless comments about electoral fraud have prompted some to suggest he may follow the example of former U.S. President Donald Trump, and refuse to accept any election loss. The tighter the margin between the two rivals, the greater the chances of an electoral crisis, experts say.

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“Electoral justice is under attack. Democracy is threatened. Constitutional society is on alert,” Fachin told a gathering of regional electoral appeals court judges. “It is necessary, in the fulfillment of the duties inherent to constitutional legality, to defend electoral justice, democracy, and the electoral process.”

Fachin said the court would “not sharpen the circus of conspiratorial narratives of the social networks, nor animate discord and disorder, much less anti-democratic agendas.”

He added that the electoral court’s goal this year “is to ensure that the results of the electoral process correspond to the legitimate will of the voters.”

Despite improving in the polls, Bolsonaro still faces an uphill battle to win re-election, with voters angry at his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as high inflation and rising fuel prices.

The TSE, along with Brazil’s supreme court, has played a central role in forcing tech companies and social networks to better police users in the country who peddle disinformation around election fraud and COVID-19 science.

Both courts have been targeted by Bolsonaro and his supporters, who accuse them of judicial overreach.

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Reporting by Ricardo Brito; Writing by Peter Frontini; Editing by Louise Heavens

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