2022 Race

How Bolsonaro fends off pressure for democratic commitment

jair bolsonaro constitution
Photo: YouTube/Jair Bolsonaro

During his regular Thursday evening social media live broadcast, President Jair Bolsonaro held up a copy of the Constitution, addressing public pressure for him to sign a manifesto in favor of Brazil’s electoral integrity.

The pro-democracy manifesto was drafted on July 25 by legal scholars at the University of São Paulo and has since collected over 1 million signatures online. The document was read aloud in public on Thursday during an event with over 7,600 attendees that was broadcast live by major Brazilian network TV Globo.

“We have recently witnessed authoritarian rants that have jeopardized secular American democracy,” the manifesto reads, alluding to former U.S. President Donald Trump. “There, the attempts to destabilize democracy and people’s trust in the fairness of elections were not successful, nor will they be successful here.”

Presidential candidates Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Ciro Gomes, and Simone Tebet expressed their support for the manifesto’s message. Mr. Bolsonaro, however, has not.

“Does anyone disagree that this is the best democracy charter?” said the president. In Brazilian Portuguese, the word for “charter” and “letter” is the same — the pro-democracy manifesto has been referred to as a “letter to Brazilians.”

“Do you think another piece of paper can replace this?” he added.

Mr. Bolsonaro went on to say that the Workers’ Party members of the 1988 Constituent Assembly did not sign the finished draft, which is false. The Workers’ Party actually voted against the final constitutional proposal, but signed it anyway. Lula himself was one of the assembly’s members.