Presidential election in Brazil: controversy over filter barriers holding back voters

The maneuver of Jair Bolsonaro caused a scandal. Leaders of the Workers’ Party have relayed on social networks many videos of buses carrying voters at a standstill, especially in rural areas of the Northeast.

This region is the electoral stronghold of ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (2003-2010), who is new presidential candidate whose the second round takes place this Sunday. “It is unacceptable what is happening at the moment in the Northeast,” lamented Lula, favorite in the polls, on his Telegram account.

To put an end to the controversy, the president of the Superior Electoral Court of Brazil announced on Sunday the lifting of filtering barriers by the federal road police who had “delayed the arrival of voters” at the polling stations for the presidential election. “The lifting of these operations has been decided, to avoid voter delays” in the offices, said Alexandre Moraes, president of the TSE, at a press conference, a little over an hour before closing of polling stations. According to him, despite the delays, “no bus turned back and all voters were able to vote”.

On Saturday evening, the court had decided on the “prohibition of any operation of the PRF which would harm the transport of voters” on Sunday. But this decision was obviously not respected: consequently, the president of the Workers’ Party, Gleisi Hoffmann, demanded the arrest of the director of the federal road police, Silvinei Vasques.

The director of traffic police, a controversial personality

Silvinei Vasques is a very controversial personality: on Sunday morning, he published an image in an Instagram story in which he called for a vote for far-right president Jair Bolsonaro, Lula’s opponent in the second round. According to the daily Folha de S. Paulo, more than 500 filter barriers aimed at controlling buses were recorded at midday throughout the country, 70% more than in the first round, on October 2.

Nikolas Ferreira, Bolsonarist recently elected deputy with the best score in the legislative election on October 2, for his part defended the traffic police: “The PRF stops buses that have been chartered. Vote buying is an electoral crime. Congratulations to the PRF”.

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Abstention, a decisive factor

Abstention in the poorer parts of the country is a factor that could prove decisive for the result of the second round, according to analysts. In the first round, Lula won with 48% of the vote, against 43% for Jair Bolsonaro.

“A coup is underway, with the use of the PRF to prevent poor people from voting Lula,” tweeted political scientist Christian Lynch.

Presidential election in Brazil: controversy over filter barriers holding back voters