Brazil’s judiciary is investigating Jair Bolsonaro

BRazil’s judiciary has announced an investigation into President Jair Bolsonaro for his regular attacks on the country’s electronic voting system. According to the Supreme Electoral Court on Monday, the right-wing head of state is suspected of abusing his “economic and political power” in order to question the legitimacy of the upcoming presidential elections. Bolsonaro denied the allegations, stating that he would not give in to these attempts at “intimidation”.

Bolsonaro had referred to the purely electronic voting system, which has been in use in Brazil since 1996, as a source of manipulation several times in the past. He did not provide any evidence of this. The court sees this as a risk of undermining the elections in the coming year. Accordingly, there are also allegations against Bolsonaro for corruption, fraud, abuse of the media and “propaganda”.

The Supreme Electoral Court also asked the Supreme Court of Brazil to investigate the head of state for spreading false news. Bolsonaro claimed in a video posted on Facebook on Thursday that there had been election rigging in the last two presidential elections. Accordingly, he should have won the first ballot in 2018.

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Bolsonaro reacted indignantly to the court’s statement. “I will continue to exercise my right to freedom of expression, criticize, listen and, above all, heed the will of the people,” he said on Tuesday in front of a group of supporters in the capital Brasilia. He accused the judiciary of interfering in government affairs.

With his criticism of the electronic voting system, Bolsonaro does not call for a return to the use of printed ballot papers. Instead, he wants a confirmation to be printed out every time he votes, so that the votes can also be counted analogously. On Sunday, thousands of President’s supporters took to the streets to demonstrate for this demand.

Bolsonaro said he was considering personally attending another such demonstration in Sao Paolo – “as a final message to those who denigrate democracy”.

According to analysts, Bolsonaro’s attacks on the electoral system suggest that given poor poll results, he could prepare for a defeat in next year’s election and respond to a possible setback with fraud allegations – along the lines of former US President Donald Trump.