An investigation reports three violent episodes a day during Brazil’s first round of elections

Pública Survey Shows More Than 50% Of Cases Were Caused By Political Disagreements Between Victim And Attackers | Picture of Agência Pública

This article was written in Portuguese by Anna Beatriz Anjos, Caio de Freitas Paes, Clarissa Levy, Giulia Afiune, José Cícero, Júlia Rohden, Laura Scofield, Mariama Correia, Matheus Santino, Nathallia Fonseca, Rafael Oliveira and Yolanda Pires, and it is was originally published in Agência Pública [pt, come tutti i link successivi, salvo diversa indicazione] October 5, 2022. It is reproduced here by virtue of an agreement with Global Voices, starting from Spanish translationthe by Romina Navarro.

Between the official start of the election campaign in Brazil, on August 16, and the first round on October 2, there were at least 148 cases of electoral violence, according to an exclusive investigation by Agência Públicawhich represents an average of three attacks per day against voters, candidates, journalists and staff of statistical institutes.

In these deeply polarized elections, the first round saw the winner the former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Workers’ PartyPT [it]) with 48.4% of the votes, followed by the current president, Jair Bolsonaro (Liberal PartyPL [it]), with 43.2%. The second round is scheduled for October 30th.

The degree of violence and the use of firearms are significant. During this period, at least six people were murdered for their political positions and another nine were subjected to attempted murder. In this investigation, Pública only included in-person assaults, not over the phone, email or social media.

The investigation does not even include the case of Marcelo Arruda, treasurer of the Workers’ Party (PT) of the Foz do Iguaçu division, in the southern state of Paranà. A supporter of Bolsonaro gli fired, killing him [es]during his PT-themed birthday party, but it happened in July, before the official campaign began.

Of the 148 recorded cases, 25 were used firearms. Four assaults took place with knives or sharp objects and three of the murdered people were stabbed; 73 cases included physical violence; there have been 99 cases of moral or psychological violence (insults and threats); and in 29 cases there was damage to property, such as vehicles or campaign committees.

Number of cases by type of violence.

More than 50% of the cases were caused by political disagreements between the victims and the attackers. In 36% of cases, the perpetrators of the attacks were sympathizers of the current president Jair Bolsonaro (PLLiberal Party [it]) and 8% were sympathizers of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PTWorkers’ Party [it]). In 61% of cases, the aggressor could not be identified. There have been no recorded cases of assaults committed by sympathizers of other presidential candidates.

There was election violence in all regions of the country, but the highest figures were in southeast (the most populous region, which includes the states of Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais and Espíritu Santo), where 45% of the total accidents took place.

In São Paulo alone there were 21% of cases. This can be explained both by the size of the population (the city of Sao Paulo has approx 12.3 million inhabitants) and the amount of media on the ground, which may have influenced the investigation, given that, in part, the investigation was based on information provided by the media.

In addition to the attacks on voters, there were 54 attacks on political figures or candidates, 32 attacks on pollsters, ten against journalists and two against officials, in this case, of constituencies.

There political violence against women it was recorded in 58 of the cases that occurred during the campaign. The attackers were, for the most part, men: in 74% of the cases, at least one attacker was a man. Three cases of sexual violence were also detected during the elections.

One of the cases was that of Isa Penna, a deputy from the state of São Paulo, who lost the race for federal deputy. Penna filed a complaint for having suffered verbal assault and harassment during an election event on 24 September. She explained that a man walked up to her, grabbed her by the belt, took a picture of her and said: You’re a p *, you’re crazy, this never happened with Cury! (referring to a another episode of sexual assault of which she was a victim in 2020, when state deputy Fernando Cury attacked her). The man was arrested and charged with sexual harassment.

The investigation also identified eleven cases of racially motivated violence.

Six registered murders

One of the most brutal cases was that of Benedito Cardoso dos Santos, a sympathizer of Lula. It was murdered with more than seventy stabs and slashes from a Bolsonarian colleague the September 7 in the state of Mato Grosso, in the region central-western [it] of Brazil.

In a statement cited in the investigation, after his arrest the day after the murder, the Bolsonarist I confess of killing Santos over a political disagreement. However, the policeman in charge of the case denied that it was a political crime. According to him, it was a common murder (!) Motivated by a discussion about politics.

Another victim was a Bolsonaro sympathizer, Hildor Henker, 34, who was murdered on the evening of September 24 in the southern state of Santa Catarina by a man who, it seems, was a PT sympathizer. They were friends and, apparently, the murder occurred after an argument outside the bar where they were staying.

The case is still under investigation and the police are considering the hypothesis that the crime occurred after a discussion about politics, but they have not ruled out other possibilities, such as family quarrels, even if the men were not related. In a Facebook post, one of the victim’s sisters wrote that it was a political assassination. The family does not wish to make any statements.


At the beginning of the election campaign, electronic voting devices were often criticized by supporters of Bolsonaro and, especially, by the president himself. Bolsonaro has often accused Brazil’s electoral system, which uses electronic devices, of fraud for more than twenty years.

This became evident on the day of the first vote, October 2, when there were eleven cases of electoral violence, including three attacks on voting devices.

In one case, a man used a piece of wood to break the device he had just voted with. The incident was recorded in a video and the man was arrested.

In the other two documented cases, the voting devices were sabotaged by means of glue. One man used glue to make it impossible to press the key number 3 (the electoral number assigned to the Workers’ Party was 13).

On another occasion, a pollster and the president of a polling station received insults from an angry voter because he was asked to leave his cell phone on the table while he voted. There court Brazilian electoral office banned the use of mobile phones inside polling stations to protect voting secrecy and prevent videos from being recorded that could have been used to spread allegations of fraud regarding electronic voting devices.

According to Julia Moreira, also an employee in the constituency, the man agreed to leave his cell phone only when another employee went to look for a security guard or policeman, but shouted the cell phone at a chair. It also seems that he kicked the chair that was in front of the voting machine.

Moreira reported that it was the fifth consecutive election in which she worked in a constituency, but that she had never seen anything like this before. You said that what you witnessed is the result of four years of a government that legitimizes and also promotes violence.

This violence is associated with misinformation about the credibility of the Brazilian electoral system. It is very worrying, because spreading a climate of mistrust, trying to break down existing rules and disrespecting those who work in polling stations are all attempts to delegitimize the entire electoral process and its results, he said.

Violence against researchers

“There are no lies on the part of here Datafolha [uno dei principali istituti statistici del Brasile]here there is datapovo [povo significa ‘popolo’]”Said Bolsonaro in a speech for the bicentenary of the independence of Brazil, on 7 September in Brasilia, in front of a multitude of supporters. The phrase has become a popular slogan among his supporters.

After the president’s recurrent criticisms and objections to opinion polls that, week after week, placed him in second place behind Lula in terms of voting intentions for the presidency, there have been at least 32 attacks against the staff from statistical institutes who understood insults, assaults and harassment.

In one case, on August 16, a Datafolha researcher had finished her last daily interview in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais state, when four men started chasing her, appealing to the institution as “communist” and “leftist” and trying to remove the device she used for interviews. During the assault, she tripped, fell, injured her knees and broke the device. The men following her left when another woman stopped to help her.

Many pollsters reported being approached by people asking to be interviewed, something that the institute’s rules prohibit in the case of electoral polls to ensure randomness of the sample. Faced with their refusals, they got angry and moved on to aggression.

In the state of San Pablo, a Bolsonarist who asked to be interviewed attacked kicked and hit a Datafolha pollster and threatened him with a fishing knife.

Sociologist David Marques, project coordinator of the Brazilian Forum of Public Security, explained that political violence is nothing new in Brazil. However, according to recent inquiries, the increased number of cases in these elections contributed to creating a generalized climate of fear.

An investigation by the Network for Political Action on Sustainability (RAPS) and the Brazilian Forum of Public Safety, based on data collected by Datafolha, reveals that seven Brazilians out of ten are afraid of being attacked for expressing their political views. Another investigation by the Quaest institute revealed that 57% of respondents they thought that this year it was more dangerous to reveal who was voting for.

And, according to a third Datafolha survey, 9% of people interviewed they admitted that they probably would not have gone to vote for fear of political violence.

For Marques, Jair Bolsonaro’s last four years as president have been extremely marked by aggressive political rhetoric. “The leaders of some political groups have leaned on this rhetoric of aggression, of fear as an instrument of political struggle and the investigation shows that they have achieved their objectives: the population is very afraid,” he concluded.

As in 2018 and 2020, Pública continues by following up on cases of electoral violence up to the second round through news published in local and national media and complaints from our readers.

An investigation reports three violent episodes a day during Brazil’s first round of elections