Bolsonaro launches campaign with digs into voting system, main rival

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Rio de Janeiro (AFP) – Brazilian Jair Bolsonaro officially launched his presidential re-election campaign on Sunday, attacking the electoral system, justice and his main challenger in a belligerent speech in Rio de Janeiro.

In a speech lasting more than an hour in a sports arena, the far-right leader promised he would maintain a temporary social support grant if re-elected, and warned that he “would not allow the fraud” in the October vote – a criticism of the electoral system which he has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, is flawed.

Earlier this week, the US Embassy in Brazil said the country’s electoral system was a “model for the world” after Bolsonaro warned in a speech to ambassadors that “flaws” in the system were breeding ” mistrust”.

Such attacks in recent months have led analysts to fear that Bolsonaro – who has been dubbed ‘Tropical Trump’ – will refuse to accept defeat like his former US counterpart, whose supporters have stormed the US Capitol. after losing the 2020 election to Joe Biden.

Bolsonaro’s repeated questioning of the electoral system prompted the Supreme Court to open an investigation against him.

On Sunday, the president urged his supporters to take to the streets in September – the first anniversary of Independence Day protests marked by attacks on democratic institutions that Bolsonaro had encouraged.

‘The people’s voice’

“The few who are deaf and dressed in black must understand the voice of the people,” he said in reference to the Supreme Court. They “must understand that it is the executive and legislative branches that make the rules”.

The event took place under high security MAURO PIMENTEL AFP

His supporters replied, “The people are supreme!

They held up banners with slogans such as “God, Fatherland and Family”. One featured an image of Trump.

Changing the subject to his main rival and poll favorite – leftist former president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva – Bolsonaro said he prayed “that Brazil never knows the pains of communism”.

“We need to attract young leftists to our side, show them the truth,” he said.

“Where their candidate has supported others in South America, look at the misery in those countries,” Bolsonaro said, referring to Venezuela, among others.

The crowd responded, “Lula, thief, your place is in jail!”

Bolsonaro appeared on stage with his wife Michelle and running mate Walter Souza Braga Netto, and wore a bulletproof vest under his shirt.

Amid fears for the safety of the presidential candidates, the event took place under tight security with metal detectors at the entrance.

A month before the elections he won in 2018, Bolsonaro was stabbed in the stomach during a campaign rally.

The latest Datafolha poll in June showed Lula leading with 47%, followed by 28% for Bolsonaro.