São Paulo, Brazil (CNN)As Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro falls further and further down successful the polls, his unsupported assertion that the 2022 elections could beryllium rigged person lone accrued successful fervor and frequency. But those freewheeling statements person present sparked investigations that could endanger his precise eligibility to tally arsenic a statesmanlike campaigner astatine all.
After a bid of claims by Bolsonaro that the country's physics voting strategy is insufficient and that it has been "violated" successful past years, Brazil's Superior Electoral Court (TSE), which oversees elections, has opened an administrative enquiry into the president's statements. It has besides requested that Bolsonaro beryllium investigated arsenic portion of a larger ongoing probe into the proliferation of "fake news" and disinformation campaigns successful Brazil. Both could travel with important political consequences for Bolsonaro.
If the TSE enquiry finds that the president abused his presumption to dispersed misinformation, Bolsonaro could beryllium barred from moving for bureau for 8 years, according to Wallace Corbo, prof of law instrumentality astatine Getúlio Vargas Foundation University (FGV).
"As president, Bolsonaro is allowed and expected to instrumentality portion successful nationalist discussions," Corbo said. "What helium cannot bash -- and has been doing -- is systematically onslaught the electoral strategy by which helium was elected."
In a property league past week, Bolsonaro promised to beryllium that Brazil´s internationally praised voting strategy is rigged, but provided nary grounds and acknowledged, "we don't person proof." He lone played a bid of inconclusive YouTube videos and media reports, examples that Brazil's Superior Electoral Court (TSE) refuted.
This week, helium doubled-down connected his attempts to foster doubts astir the electoral system, tweeting confidential documents from a 2018 national probe that Bolsonaro claims amusement the country's voting strategy was "violated."
But according to the TSE, which has repeatedly rebutted Bolsonaro's claims astir election-rigging, the hacking occurrence did not effect successful fraud. "It is worthy reiterating that physics voting machines are ne'er networked. As they are not connected to the internet, they are not taxable to distant access, which prevents immoderate benignant of outer interference successful the voting and counting process. For this reason, it is imaginable to say, with a borderline of certainty, that the investigated penetration had nary interaction connected the result of the elections," the tribunal said successful a statement.
In effect to the court's determination to analyse him, the President has insisted that his interest is purely astir the elections' integrity, and said that helium "won't judge [any] intimidation."
"Questionable elections volition not beryllium permitted adjacent year. Brazil volition person an predetermination adjacent year. Clean, antiauthoritarian elections," Bolsonaro said.
Nevertheless, his repeated attacks connected the existent systems person raised concerns that the incumbent is preparing to cull unfavorable results.
During a YouTube livestream connected Thursday, Bolsonaro -- who has repeatedly insisted connected the request to audit ballots with insubstantial records -- said helium would not inquire to audit the 2022 elections if helium emerges victorious. "Any broadside tin question the elections. If I triumph I won't question them ... I won't discarded my time," helium said.
A Datafolha canvass from July 7 and 8 presently shows Bolsonaro much than 20 points down his main opponent, erstwhile leftwing president Lula da Silva, successful a archetypal circular of voting.
Bolsonaro's comments person peculiarly targeted physics voting, informing that his supporters whitethorn not judge the results of the existent system. Brazil has had afloat computerized elections since 2000 and the TSE has identified nary fraud since then.
"If this method continues, they're going to person problems," the President said successful a July vigor interview, according to Reuters. "Because 1 side, which is our side, whitethorn not judge the result."
Earlier this year, successful the aftermath of the January 6 Capitol riot successful Washington, Bolsonaro claimed that Brazil could look adjacent worse repercussions if it doesn't instrumentality insubstantial ballots. "If Brazil doesn't person a printed ballot successful 2022, a mode of auditing the vote, we volition person a worse occupation than the US," helium told supporters successful beforehand of the Alvorada Palace successful Brasilia then.
(Electronic voting systems tin nevertheless beryllium audited, arsenic they were erstwhile 2014 statesmanlike campaigner Aecio Neves demanded a recount aft losing to Dilma Rousseff. The audit, which took 1 year, confirmed Rousseff's victory.)
In an interrogation with CNN Brasil connected Wednesday, Brazilian parliamentary person and Bolsonaro state Arthur Lira said that helium trusts physics voting machines, but that helium would enactment changing authorities astir voting process successful bid to summation nationalist trust, including the imaginable usage of the printed ballot system.
But immoderate predetermination officials fearfulness Bolsonaro's claims whitethorn person already damaged nationalist assurance successful the upcoming vote. "The menace against elections, polluting the nationalist statement with disinformation, lies, hatred and conspiracy theories is an anti-democratic behavior," wrote TSE President Luis Barroso this week.
Bolsonaro nevertheless argues that adjacent successful his relation arsenic president, helium has the "right to criticize" electoral processes -- incorrect oregon not. "The TSE has taken definite steps to analyse and impeach maine of undemocratic acts," Bolsonaro responded successful an interrogation with the vigor programme Jovem Pan connected Wednesday. "I tin beryllium wrong, but I person the close to criticize. We are not wrong. We didn't marque mistakes!"