sounds familiar?

Brazil's Bolsonaro has his same old election fraud excuse ready if he loses

The tactic was first deployed in the 2018 election that ultimately saw Bolsonaro become president
Brazil's Bolsonaro has his same old election fraud excuse ready if he loses
Photo: EVARISTO SA/AFP (Getty Images)
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Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro is trailing at the polls—and he’s getting ready to blame the country’s voting system for it.

Bolsonaro and his party have claimed, without evidence, that government employees could alter ballots. They insist the electronic voting machines, used for 25 years, are prone to fraud, but provided no proof of this when the opportunity to do so presented itself last year.

The enflamed rhetoric of the campaign, and Bolsonaro’s attempts to undermine the voting system, has raised fears of political violence should the election loser refuse to accept defeat.

2018 “WhatsApp election” deja vu

In the last presidential election, the rampant spread of fake news played a big hand in Bolsonaro’s win. Meta-owned messaging app WhatsApp—which was used by 120 million of the 210 million Brazilians then—was flooded with fake articles and videos favoring the now-president.

Crying foul about electronic voting machines was a big part of the ploy: Up to 48% of the rightwing items found in an analysis of 11,957 viral messages from 2018's election period mentioned a fictional plot to fraudulently manipulate the electronic ballot system.

2022 election schedule

A few days ahead of the election, polls give left-wing rival Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva a 14-point lead over Bolsonaro, and might even amass enough votes to win a 50 percent plus one majority.

Oct. 2: Brazilians will vote in the first round to elect a president, 27 of 81 senators, all 513 members of the Chamber of Deputies and all 27 governors and state legislatures.

Oct. 30: second round of voting will take place if no presidential candidate bags 50% of the votes

Person of interest: Luiz Inàcio Lula da Silva

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (simply known as Lula) is coming back to finish what he started.

The 76-year-old left-wing leader was president between January 2003 and December 2010. He enjoyed great popularity, but his legacy was ultimately marred by corruption convictions in 2017, which Lula appealed. In 2018, Brazil’s top electoral court forced him to drop off the presidential race, in which he was a frontrunner. In March 2021, the Brazilian Supreme Court voided his conviction.

During his stint as president, his welfare policies focused on fighting hunger and redistributing wealth were credited with lifting 20 million Brazilians out of poverty. With majority of Brazilians still struggling with food insecurity and rising inflation, Lula’s supporters hope he can work his magic again.

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