By Maria Carolina Marcello
BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazilian Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco on Friday vehemently rejected any speculation that the 2022 presidential election may not take place, insisting that the constitution will be upheld and the wishes and expectations of the Brazilian people will be met.
Speaking to reporters in the Senate, Pacheco was responding to comments made by President Jair Bolsonaro earlier in the week that he may not accept the result of the election unless the voting system is changed.
Bolsonaro even suggested the vote might not be held at all as he accused the system of being fraudulent.
“The elections will take place as this is a constitutional imperative,” Pacheco said. “We cannot deprive the Brazilian people of their most sacred and sovereign right, which is the right to choose their representatives. It’s that simple.”
Bolsonaro claims the voting system, which uses computers to record votes, is susceptible to voter fraud, and is insisting that only printed ballots be used. On Thursday, he told supporters in Brasilia that if the election is not “clean” it will not go ahead.
“That is my last word on the matter. There will be printed ballots, because if there are no printed ballots, this is a sign that there will be no election. The message is clear.”
Pacheco on Friday rejected any suggestion there has been voter fraud in previous elections or that the current system is vulnerable to fraud.
The Supreme Electoral Court on Friday issued a statement calling Bolsonaro’s comments “lamentable” and stating that any action to prevent the election violates the constitution and is a “dereliction of duty.”
It also said that since electronic voting machines were first used in 1996, “not a single case of fraud has been recorded.”
Polls this week put Bolsonaro’s disapproval rating at an all-time high, and voter intentions show him falling further behind former leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is expected to challenge him.
(Reporting by Maria Carolina Marcello and Ricardo Brito in Brasilia; Writing by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Leslie Adler and Matthew Lewis)