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Brazil’s Bolsonaro reluctant to concede defeat to Lula, disputes election result

Jair Bolsonaro and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva during the election campaign last month. (Getty Images)

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has challenged the election result after losing to his leftist rival Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva last month, arguing that votes from some institutions should be recounted in a lawsuit election officials have considered with initial skepticism.

Bolsonaro's claim is unlikely to be far-fetched, as Lula's victory was confirmed by the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) and accepted by leading Brazilian politicians and international allies. However, it could fuel a limited but committed protest movement that has so far refused to accept the final outcome of the election.
Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes, who currently heads the TSE, said Bolsonaro's right-wing electoral coalition which filed the complaint, has 24 hours to complete its audit of both rounds of the October election.

Brazil's currency fell 1.3 percent against the dollar after news of the election complaint. The currency was also influenced by investors' concerns about Lula's spending plans and economic policy makers.

Fernando Bergallo, head of operations at FB Capital, was among those who said Bolsonaro's bid to challenge the election was unlikely to succeed, but that it could increase pessimism beyond what we already see.

Gleisi Hoffmann, head of the Lula Workers' Party (PT), described Bolsonaro's election complaint as a sinister act.

"No more procrastination, irresponsibility, insults to institutions and democracy," she wrote on Twitter. "The election was decided in the vote and Brazil needs peace to build a better future."

At the same time, the Social Democracy Party of Brazil (PSDB), one of PT's fierce and old rivals, called Bolsonaro's complaint meaningless, tweeting that it would be resisted "by institutions, the international community and Brazilian society."

Bolsonaro's coalition said its audit of the October 30 runoff between Bolsonaro and Lula showed "signs of irreparable … malfunction" in some electronic voting machines. "There were signs of serious failures that generate uncertainties and make it impossible to validate the results generated" in older models of the voting machines, Bolsonaro allies said in their complaint. As a result, they said the votes from those models should be "invalidated."

Bolsonaro, the former captain of the far-right army, has been claiming for years that the country's electronic voting system is subject to fraud, but he has not yet been able to provide categorical evidence for the claims.

Bolsonaro remained publicly silent for 48 hours after the election was called on October 30 and has yet to admit defeat, though he has allowed his government to prepare for a presidential transition in the meantime. Bolsonaro narrowly lost the run-off with 49.1 percent of the vote compared with Lula's 50.9 percent.

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