Respect the vote 

Thousands of Brazilians on Thursday gathered at the University of Sao Paulo’s law school to rally support for the country’s democracy, amidst concerns over President Jair Bolsonaro’s antidemocratic tendencies. 

There’s been growing concern over Bolsonaro’s commitment to democracy since he got to power. After consistently glorifying the country’s two-decade dictatorship that ended in 1985, and claims that Brazil’s electronic voting machines are prone to fraud, Bolsonaro has left Brazilians worried ahead of elections in October, with fears of him clinging on to power if he loses. After meeting with Hungary’s autocratic leader, Viktor Orban, and Russia’s Vladimir Putin earlier in the year, Bolsonaro is reported to have boasted that only God can remove him from power. 

Did he say that? 

Seeing increasing opposition to his re-election bid, Bolsonaro once threatened that elections would be suspended if Congress didn’t approve a bill to introduce printed receipts of votes, a demand that was rejected by Congress. Breaking from a tradition of not publicly taking sides on Brazil’s political issues, hundreds of companies in banking, oil, construction, and transportation are reported to have endorsed the current pro-democracy activities of Bolsonaro’s opposition. According to Carlos Melo, a political science professor at Insper University in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s private sector appears to have made an exception now, “given the fear that any democratic backslide would be bad for business”. 

How’s Bolsonaro responding to these? 

He has downplayed concerns ahead of the election and insists that he respects the Constitution. He, however, appears to be isolated, as even his party is reported to have distanced itself from claims that the election could be compromised. In an attempt to divert attention from the law school rally on Thursday, he remarked on Twitter; “Today, a very important act took place… Petrobras reduced, once again, the price of diesel.” Despite lower unemployment, reduced gasoline prices, and higher welfare spending, reports say Bolsonaro trails his rival, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, in polls ahead of the October election. 

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