Top bankers, business leaders say democracy in ‘grave danger’

“Instead, we are facing a moment of immense danger for our democratic institutions and insinuations of contempt for the result of the elections.”

The signatories said Brazil’s electronic voting system has been an example for the world, ensuring the election of alternating parties in power in a safe and reliable way since national elections in 1998.

“In today’s Brazil, there is no more room for authoritarian setbacks,” the letter said, recalling dictatorship and torture that Brazil suffered during decades of past military rule.

A voting machine sits at the headquarters of the Brazilian Supreme Electoral Court as analysts test the electronic voting system in Brasilia in May.Credit:AP

Bolsonaro’s chief of staff, Ciro Nogueira, responding to the proclamation, said on Twitter that bankers were upset with the president because he had established the independence of the central bank, and banks had lost more than 30 billion reais ($8 billion) in transaction fees due to a new system for electronic payments.

Meanwhile, US Defence Secretary, Lloyd Austin, has stressed the need for militaries to be under firm civilian control at a defence gathering in Brazil.

Austin’s remarks came just two days after Bolsonaro formally launched his re-election bid on Sunday by claiming “the Army is on our side”.

“Credible deterrence demands military and security forces that are ready, capable, and under firm civilian control,” Austin said in the capital, Brasilia, on Wednesday AEST, adding: “The more we deepen our democracies, the more we deepen our security.”

US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin is in Brazil for a defence conference.

US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin is in Brazil for a defence conference.Credit:AP

Austin, a retired US Army general, will hold bilateral talks with Brazilian delegations on Wednesday.

Bolsonaro, a former Army captain, told diplomats earlier this month that the Brazilian military should be called in to help secure transparency in the election. He has pushed electoral authorities to accept a parallel vote count to be carried out by the armed forces. They have ruled that out.

The manoeuvres have also unnerved Brazil-watchers in Washington, including in Congress.

“[Austin] should simply make clear that the military should stay out of the election and allow any disputes about the election to be resolved by constitutional means,” Democrat Tom Malinowski, a member of the House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee, said.

“And he should remind his counterparts that US law restricts our cooperation with foreign militaries that participate in anything that might resemble a coup.”

Brazilian military leaders have repeatedly said the armed forces will respect any result of the election.

Some military officials have made headlines, however, by echoing Bolsonaro’s comments about potential weaknesses in the voting system.

Reuters

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