Brazil faces potentially dangerous unrest around the country’s upcoming presidential vote, a senior elections official has warned.
Speaking at the Wilson Center in Washington DC on Wednesday, Superior Electoral Court Minister Edson Fachin said that the next elections run a risk of unrest “more severe” than the January 6, 2021, insurrection, when rioters violently stormed the US capitol fueled by the false belief that the 2020 election had been stolen.
Brazil’s own contentious presidential elections in October are expected to pit current President Jair Bolsonaro against former President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva.
“Brazilian society will put a mirror in front of itself on October 2. If it wants a war of everyone against everyone, or if it wants democracy,” said Fachin, who had been invited to comment on preparations and challenges ahead of the vote.
He described several steps the electoral commission has taken to improve transparency and legitimacy in the vote, which will take place electronically and in person at voting centers. The Organization of the American States (OAS) has agreed to be an observer in the Brazilian elections, he said.
Fachin also warned that election authorities won’t accept interference from the federal government or the Armed Forces.
“May the Electoral Justice fulfill its mission, and we will [fulfill it]. The Brazilian judiciary will not bend. To anyone,” he said.
Incumbent Bolsonaro has repeatedly cast doubt on the country’s electoral process and criticized in particular the use of electronic ballots – a system that has been in place in 2000. He has also called for the military to perform a parallel “public” count of the votes.
The President’s remarks, first made in August 2021, have prompted a series of demonstrations in the country against the electoral system.
Last week, his son, politician Flavio Bolsonaro, also refused to rule out the possibility of a January 6-like episode in Brazil, in an interview with newspaper Estadao.
“How can we control it?” he said. “People saw problems in the US electoral system, were outraged, and did what they did.”
There is no evidence, however, of widespread fraud in the 2020 US presidential election.