Opinion

Bolsonaro’s authoritarian pursuits put the West in a bind

Two months ahead of the presidential elections, Western diplomats face a dilemma as Jair Bolsonaro signals he will not recognize the result if he loses

President Jair Bolsonaro and Defense Minister Paulo Sérgio Nogueira (left), a recently-retired Army general, have hinted that they may not accept the October election results. Photo: Marcos Corrêa/PR
President Jair Bolsonaro and Defense Minister Paulo Sérgio Nogueira (left), a recently-retired Army general, have hinted that they may not accept the October election results. Photo: Marcos Corrêa/PR

While Donald Trump’s decision not to recognize his electoral defeat in 2020 and to mobilize his followers to invade the U.S. Congress surely came as a shock to foreign diplomats, no international observer in Brasília will be able to feign surprise if Jair Bolsonaro decides not to recognize his defeat in the presidential elections two months from now, as polls currently suggest. 

Mr. Bolsonaro has gone to such great lengths to attack the country’s voting system and to convince his followers not to trust electronic voting machines that his formal acceptance of defeat could very well fail to impress many...

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