Bolsonaro Refuses EU Observers For October Election

With the 2022 election under a shadow of threats from far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro and his military backers, a delegation of EU observers have had their invitation to follow the October election revoked, following a backlash from the Bolsonaro government itself.

Brazilian news site NEXO reports that the Bolsonaro government has pressured the Electoral Court to withdraw its invitation to the European Union to send a delegation of observers to assess conditions ahead of the October 2022 presidential vote, and later during the election itself.

The refusal of EU observers comes as Bolsonaro and his allies intensify a campaign of disinformation about the Brazilian electronic voting system. News of the withdrawal has broken just days after “high level dialogue” with a United States government delegation led by Victoria Nuland, and with US-allied Bolsonaro trailing former President Lula by a significant margin in all opinion polls.

The Superior Electoral Court withdrew an invitation it had made in March for European Union representatives to follow the October presidential elections in Brazil.The European Union’s communications service told Nexo, that a backlash from the Bolsonaro government was behind the U-turn. Itamaraty, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, even took a public stand against the presence of European observers.

The TSE (Brazilian Superior Electoral Court) asked the European Commission in March to send an exploratory mission to the country to verify conditions on the ground for the subsequent dispatch of an observation mission proper to the October 2022 presidential elections.

International election observers have the mission to verify that the race was clean, without fraud. In Brazil, several international organizations already carry out this monitoring, but this would be the first time that there would be observers from the European Union.

The invitation for EU observers was revealed by the Reuters news agency, on April 11. Two days later, the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement in which it opposed the presence of representatives of the bloc in the elections.

Brazil’s foreign ministry argued that “it is not in Brazil’s tradition to be evaluated by an international organization of which it is not a part”. International organisations do regularly observe electoral processes in Brazil.

In a written response, the European Commission said that it “received an invitation letter, in early March, from the Superior Electoral Court to send an exploratory mission” to Brazil. The intention of this exploratory mission would be to “examine the usefulness, opportunity and feasibility of sending a European Union Election Observation Mission” for the October presidential election.

However, “the TSE informed the European Commission that it will not proceed with its request made in March, due to reservations expressed by the Brazilian government”. The note concludes: “under these circumstances, we will not send an exploratory mission to Brazil to evaluate a possible Electoral Observation Mission” in October.