Pro-democracy petition garners 500,000 signatures in Brazil

Agence France-Presse
Pro-democracy petition garners 500,000 signatures in Brazil
In this file photo Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro speaks during the launching event of the Week of Communication at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, on May 5, 2021.

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil ?— 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.

With the presidential election just two months away, in which Bolsonaro trails former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in opinion polls, the petition launched by members of the faculty of law at the University of Sao Paulo had passed 546,000 signatures midway through Saturday.

"We are going through a moment of great peril for normal democracy, a risk for the republic's institutions and insinuations about not respecting the election results," the petition's authors wrote, without ever mentioning Bolsonaro.

Among them were former supreme court judges and several artists, including well-known singer Chico Buarque.

"Unfounded and unproven attacks have brought into question the electoral process and the democratic state of law achieved with such a great struggle by Brazilian society," the petition reads.

"Threats against other powers ... incitement to violence and institutional rupture are intolerable."

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

Recent opinion polls have seen him trail Lula, president from 2003-10, by a large margin.

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

Those are seen as significant given Bolsonaro garnered much support from the business sector ahead of his election four years ago.

Bolsonaro has been defiant, saying in a speech earlier this week: "We are for transparency, legality, we respect the constitution."

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