“Democracy is at risk:” Haddad files for Bolsonaro’s candidacy to be withdrawn over alleged electoral fraud

Haddad Bolsonaro anti-PT messages whatsapp Image courtesy of @newrepublic - Twitter.

Fernando Haddad and fellow left-wing former candidate Ciro Gomes have filed for their opponent Jair Bolsonaro’s candidacy to be withdrawn from this year’s general elections, for which the final vote will take place on October 28.

Gomes came third place in the first round of electoral voting that took place on October 7 with 12.5% of the vote.

The pair are objecting to the news, published yesterday (October 18) by Folha de S. Paulo, indicating that private Pro-bolsonaro businesses have been financing anti-PT campaigns spread via Whatsapp. They have called for a formal investigation of the Bolsonaro campaign and the companies involved in the scandal.

If proven to be true, the allegations constitute electoral crime, abuse of economic resources and illicit use of media communication channels.

Understandably, the latest saga to the telenovela-style drama of this year’s elections has generated large amounts of controversy. US journalist Glenn Greenwald noted – via Twitter – that the Brazilian journalist Patricia Campos Mello, who was responsible for breaking the news at Folha, had locked her Twitter account after receiving violent threats.

“That’s the Bolsonaro-created climate in Brazil, before he’s even won,” Greenwald tweeted.

“Today, Folha has proven that minister Bolsonaro created a real criminal organisation with businessmen that, via illegal funds, dirty money, are sponsoring the spread of false messages on Whatsapp,” Haddad tweeted, referring to the news.

“We are going to get the Federal Police and electoral justice involved to prevent minister Bolsonaro from violently attacking democracy like he has been doing… he can run from debates, but not from justice,” the PT candidate threatened, in a separate tweet.  

In a series of statements Haddad went on to publish via Twitter, he detailed that he was afraid that the same “criminal organisation” would threaten both the press and the electoral justice system into not “complying with their constitutional duty.” He also reiterated that the financing of Whatsapp campaigns constituted electoral fraud, warning that “democracy is at risk,” and proposed that the second round vote should be between himself and PDT candidate Gomes.

For his part, accused candidate Bolsonaro has denied the accusations, resorting to a Facebook Live video to do so, as he has done throughout the electoral process.

Since Sept. 6, I’ve been out of the fight. I was in the hospital 23 days, and I’ve been at home a few days. I did not dine or lunch with anyone. I only went out five times,” Bolsonaro said, referring to Haddad’s accusation that he had sat down to have dinner with Whatsapp officials and asked them for resources.

Speaking to news agency Reuters, a spokeswoman for Whatsapp said that the company was taking the allegations very seriously.  “WhatsApp has proactively banned hundreds of thousands of accounts during the Brazilian election period,” she said.  

Electoral law expert Guilherme Salles Gonçalves also confirmed to Reuters that Bolsonaro’s candidacy could be withdrawn if the accusations were proven to be true. “Bolsonaro’s personal behaviour is not being assessed,” he said, but “the responsibility of abuse of power is objective, regardless of whether the campaign acted unintentionally or on purpose. What is going to be evaluated will be whether or not the behaviour influenced the campaign or not.”

Just this morning, October 19, Veja also reported that the case will go to Brazil’s Supreme Electoral Court and be dealt with by electoral inspector general Jorge Mussi.

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