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Bolsonaro’s challenge to the results of the Brazilian election fueled protests from Reuters

©Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro delivers a press statement at Alvorada Palace on November 1, 2022 in Brasilia, Brazil. REUTERS/Adriano Machado/File Photo

By Ricardo Brito and Maria Carolina Marcello

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s attempt to challenge the election he lost last month appears weak on the matter, according to election experts and political analysts, but could still cheer supporters who have protested his loss.

In a complaint filed with the Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) on Tuesday, Bolsonaro’s allies argued that votes should be “nullified” by some machines, citing signs of “malfunctioning” and credited the victory to his left-wing rival Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in question.

Giuseppe Janino, one of the creators of Brazil’s electronic voting system, said the complaint appears to have focused on machine logs, which have no bearing on voting results.

“This is just another attempt to discredit the electronic voting system that has worked well, elected governments in our country for 26 years and contributed to our democracy,” Janino told Reuters.

The complaint was met with skepticism by electoral authorities and other political figures, who have acknowledged Lula’s victory.

The head of the Brazilian Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco, said the election result was “unquestionable”, while the centre-right of the Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB) called Bolsonaro’s challenge “pointless”. When the PSDB challenged the results of the 2014 presidential election, the investigation lasted a year and found no irregularities.

Vice President Hamilton Mourao, on a trip to Portugal on Wednesday, acknowledged that Bolsonaro’s challenge is unlikely to succeed, but said Brazil’s electoral process needed more “transparency”.

Neither Bolsonaro’s office nor his Liberal Party immediately responded to requests for comment.

“Bolsonaro’s style is always confrontational, and this challenge is obviously a way to keep his far-right supporters mobile,” said political strategist Luiz Flavio Guimaraes.

He said the right-wing Liberal Party had failed to provide evidence of fraud when filing the complaint, adding that the president’s allies seemed disappointed by the weakness of the case brought to the election authorities.

However, analyst Andre Cesar of consultancy Hold Legislativa said the challenge would provide ammunition for an ongoing protest movement by Bolsonaro’s hardcore supporters.

“His arguments are flimsy, but it will help him keep the most radical of his supporters mobile and guarantee they will keep making noise outside army barracks,” he said.

Die-hard Bolsonaro supporters have camped outside army bases to protest Lula’s victory, which they say was “stolen” through voter fraud, and called for the military to intervene.

Their numbers have been declining for the past few weeks, and there were no immediate signs of an uptrend as of Wednesday. But the challenge could give them new impetus, some said.

“People are on the streets, they will not retreat,” said one of those supporters – Paulo Carvalho, 54, an IT company owner. “If everything disclosed in this complaint is actually true, then this is solid evidence that the results were tampered with,” he said.