In a move that critics compared to former U.S. President Donald Trump's unsuccessful efforts to overturn the 2020 election, far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday officially contested his loss to leftist challenger Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, citing a software bug in the country's electronic voting machines that independent experts say had no effect on the contest's outcome.
The results of last month's runoff election—which da Silva, the Workers' Party (PT) candidate and former two-term president, won by more than 2.1 million votes—have been validated by Brazil's Superior Electoral Court (TSE). That means Bolsonaro's challenge is highly unlikely to succeed.
TSE President Alexandre de Moraes said in a statement Tuesday that "the electronic voting machines were used in both the first and second rounds of the 2022 election."
"Thus," he added, "under penalty of dismissal of the complaint, the plaintiff must add to the complaint so that the request covers both rounds, within 24 hours."
Os fascistas vão espernear mas o fato é que Lula vai subir a rampa no dia primeiro de janeiro e Bolsonaro vai sair do Planalto pela porta dos fundos. Lula presidente, golpistas na cadeia!
— Ivan Valente (@IvanValente) November 23, 2022
Bolsonaro, an outspoken admirer of Brazil's former U.S.-backed military dictatorship—in which he served as an army officer—repeatedly threatened to reject the results of the election if he did not win.
Some observers fear the lame-duck incumbent's election challenge could spark protests by supporters similar to demonstrations by truck drivers and others in the days following the October 30 runoff—or even an insurrection akin to the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol by backers of Trump's "Big Lie" that the 2020 U.S. presidential election was stolen.
The international hacktivist collective Anonymous called Bolsonaro's gambit "straight from Donald Trump's playbook," an assessment echoed by progressives in Brazil and abroad.
"Bolsonaro's action at the TSE is chicanery that must be punished as bad faith litigation," asserted PT national president Gleisi Hoffman. "No more dubious gamesmanship, irresponsibility, insults to institutions and democracy. The election was decided by the vote and Brazil needs peace to build a better future."
Congressmember-elect Erika Hilton, a member of the Socialism and Liberty Party and a São Paulo city councilmember, sardonically suggested Tuesday that Bolsonaro—who has been unusually quiet since losing—was "coming up with the brilliant idea of annulling votes only in the electronic ballot boxes he lost."
Hilton, one of three transgender progressives elected to Brazil's Congress last month, accused Bolsonaro of trying to "translate Trump's tactic into Portuguese," adding, "which also didn't work."