Jair Bolsonaro is President of Brazil, a country with 211 million residents. He is up for re-election in 2022. He is a right-wing populist, and in many ways similar to Donald Trump.
The norms of a working democracy are that the candidate enters an election to win the approval of the people and a willingness to accept the results, if he loses. Trump’s approach was that if he won, it showed he was the better candidate and if he lost, the election was rigged against him. Thus, he solidified his base against Democrats and the new president and in doing so, undermined the election in general. It is sadly all about fund raising, to maintain the base.
Similar to Trump, Bolsonaro claimed the electronic voting machines can’t be trusted. It’s all sounds very familiar. In the US, the lawyers who made the claims for Trump, namely Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, are facing serious civil lawsuits from the voting machine companies. Sidney Powell may be face disbarment in the states where these claims and others were made, and lacking any evidence.
These lies had consequences. Five people died on January 6, 2021 as the Capitol in Washington was taken over by rioters. It was a very sad day in our history. Since the day it was clear Trump had lost the election, he was making wild claims that the election was stolen, so storming the capitol was a normal reaction of a citizenry who thought their rights to free election was being taken from them. “Stop the Steal” wasn’t just political rhetoric, it was the prelude to a violent attack on our legislators and the vice president of the United States.
Bolsonaro is following closely in Trump’s footsteps. He stated there were only 3 outcomes of the election: He would be re-elected, arrested or killed. (see link below). Another words, if he loses the election, it is because the electoral system failed, and now his enemies would come after him.
“As president, Bolsonaro is allowed and expected to take part in public discussions,” Corbo said. “What he cannot do — and has been doing — is systematically attack the electoral system by which he was elected.” Dr. Corbo is a constitutional law professor in Brazil.
Sadly, I’ve seen this before, way before Trump. Angola’s very first election in 1992, was between the current President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and UNITA’s leader, Jonas Savimbi. The election was to be a triumph of democratic process, ending a decades long civil war, which killed 300,000 Angolans. To this day, I can recall the words of Savimbi’s press secretary, in a shrill voice, calling the election a total fraud and totally lacking in credibility. So, for those that believed the party’s lie, Dos Santos was not the elected candidate, he was not their president, and no one bore any allegiance to him. The election had not been rigged. The UN had monitored the election. Savimbi had enough military equipment and soldiers to re-ignite the civil war, and violence broke out in Luanda, the capital of Angola. The war ended in 2002 with the death of Savimbi.
What Trump was looking for, was a way to legitimize his claims, through Congress, the Justice Department and each state where the Democrats won by a narrow margin (Georgia, Pennsylvania and Michigan, to name a few) that the election results were false and he had won.
I am hoping that Brazilians deny Bolsonaro a second term, and are smart enough to see through his lies. If he’s the Brazilian Trump, then the next step will be to take whatever measures he can, to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election. I’m afraid the increase rhetoric can turn to violence as it did in the US. Or worse Angola.