Photo: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, left, and Supreme Court Judge Alexandre de Moraes in Brasilia, on May 19. Photo: Sergio Lima/AFP/Getty Images.
This Sunday, October 30, Brazil heads to the polls for a second-round runoff between President Jair Bolsonaro and former President Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva. On Wednesday, the Brazilian electoral tribunal president, Justice Alexandre de Moraes, ruled to reject the investigation of alleged irregularities in radio advertisements that President Bolsonaro believes “unbalance the electoral process” and “interfere in the election result” in favor of former President Lula. “There is no doubt that the plaintiffs [Bolsonaro]—who should have carried out their assignment of overseeing their campaign’s radio and television insertions—pointed out an alleged electoral fraud on the eve of the second round of the election without credible documentary basis, therefore absent any minimal evidence,” said Moraes in the decision. The magistrate added that the company that carried out Bolsonaro’s campaign is “not specialized in audits.” In response, Bolsonaro alleged that the magistrate “does not follow our Constitution and does not have the support of the Public Ministry.”
Last Thursday, Brazil’s electoral court granted itself unilateral power to demand social media companies remove false online posts as disinformation plagues social platforms in the country. Under the rule, social networks must remove relevant content within two hours or face temporary suspension of services in Brazil. The law requires social networks to delete content within one hour and ban any paid electoral ads from 48 hours before till 24 hours after the election. Justice Moraes said that “the aggressiveness of this information and of hate speech” merits the measure. Before this ruling, Bolsonaro supporters had reportedly spread fake news on social media.
Several polling organizations show Lula’s lead over Bolsonaro slimming to less than five percentage points. On Tuesday, Lula reassured voters that if elected in October, he would not seek reelection in 2026. On Monday, a former congressman threw a grenade at federal police officers while trying to resist arrest for attacking Supreme Court Justice Cármen Lúcia online. This incident occurred one and a half months after a Bolsonaro supporter killed a Lula supporter during a political argument. Bolsonaro has repeatedly questioned the electoral system and said that only “God could remove him from power.”