More than half a million people have signed a petition in “defense of democracy” in Brazil in response to President Jair Bolsonaro’s attacks on public institutions and the electoral system.

Two months before the presidential election, in which Bolsonaro is ahead of former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in the opinion polls, the petition launched by members of the law faculty of the University of Sao Paulo had collected 546,000 signatures by mid-Saturday.

“We are going through a moment of great peril for normal democracy, a risk for the institutions of the republic and insinuations on the non-respect of the results of the elections,” wrote the authors of the petition, without ever mentioning Bolsonaro.

Among them were former Supreme Court justices and several artists, including the famous singer Chico Buarque.

“Unfounded and unproven attacks have called into question the electoral process and the democratic rule of law achieved with such great struggle by Brazilian society,” the petition reads.

“Threats against other powers…the incitement to violence and institutional breakdown are intolerable.”

Bolsonaro, who came to power in 2019, has regularly attacked the electronic voting system used since 1996, raising fears he will not accept the result if he loses.

Recent opinion polls have seen him trail Lula, president from 2003 to 2010, by a wide margin.

Other signatories included the banking federation and the influential Sao Paulo Federation of Industries.

These are seen as important given that Bolsonaro garnered much support from the business sector before his election four years ago.

Bolsonaro was defiant, saying in a speech earlier this week: “We are for transparency, legality, we respect the constitution.”


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