Aug. 3 (UPI) — Election officials in Brazil announced on Tuesday that they’re investigating President Jair Bolsonaro for sowing doubt about the country’s electoral process, which critics say is threatening to Brazilian democracy.
The populist and controversial Bolsonaro said last weekend that next year’s presidential election might not be held due to questions about physical ballots.
Previously, he also questioned past elections and made claims that elections officials say are baseless.
The country’s electoral authority, the TSE, said Tuesday that it will investigate his remarks to see if they constituted a crime or violation of Brazilian law.
“Threatening the realization of an election represents anti-democratic behavior,” TSE President Luis Roberto Barroso said, according to The Guardian.
“Polluting the public debate with disinformation, lies, hatred and conspiracy theories represents anti-democratic behavior.”
Bolsonaro, who was long a supporter of former U.S. President Donald Trump, responded Tuesday by saying that he won’t accept “intimidation.”
According to election officials, last year’s municipal elections saw voter turnout of 147 million people across 5,500 municipalities and more than 400,000 machines. The voting system, implemented in 1996, has been praised for helping eliminate fraud and accelerate election results.
Experts say Bolsonaro’s claims about fraud is a possible move to deflect the heavy criticism he’s received over his response to the COVID-19 pandemic — and the fact that polling indicates that he faces a tough election challenge next year from opponent Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.