Brazil has for the first time invited European Union representatives to observe its upcoming elections, its electoral authority has said.
The move comes after President Jair Bolsonaro made unfounded claims of fraud and questioned the validity of Brazil’s electronic voting system following regional elections in 2020.
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Fears that the far-right president may reject the results of the election in October, in which he will seek a second term, have been further spurred by more recent comments demanding the adoption of paper ballots and accusing the election authority (TSE) of favouring his main opponent, the left-wing Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
The invitation to the EU aims “to amplify the transparency of its electoral system and make cooperation possible”, the TSE said on Monday.
The electoral authority said talks were also under way with other groups that had previously observed Brazilian elections, including the Organization of American States and the Community of Portuguese Language Countries. It also invited the United States-based Carter Center, among others.
European Commission Vice-President Josep Borrell, who handles EU foreign policy, replied last month thanking the TSE for the invitation, saying he had to consult the bloc’s 27 member states and the European Parliament, a person with knowledge of the matter told Reuters news agency.
That source and another, who requested anonymity to discuss diplomatic deliberations, told Reuters the EU plans to send a mission to Brazil in May to assess the viability of being an official observer for the October election.
Recent polls show Bolsonaro, who has been criticised for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, with the country’s Senate accusing him of crimes against humanity over his approach to the public health crisis, trailing far behind Lula.
Bolsonaro supported a misinformation campaign led by former US President Donald Trump after his election loss to President Joe Biden.
When Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in a bid to stop the certification of Biden’s victory, the Brazilian leader wrote on social media that there were lots of reports of fraud in the US vote.
Bolsonaro’s close ties with the country’s armed forces have worried voters that he may copy Trump’s refusal to accept defeat.