Remember the democratic principle of honoring election results

Another attempt has been made to use violence to overturn the will of the people as expressed through an election, two years after the incident in the United States.

Rejecting the democratic principle of honoring the outcome of an election even if one disagrees with the result is unacceptable.

In the Brazilian capital of Brasilia, about 4,000 supporters of previous President Jair Bolsonaro stormed Congress, the presidential palace and the Supreme Court. More than 1,500 people have been detained.

The supporters and others refused to accept Bolsonaro’s defeat in last October’s presidential election and went on a rampage to protest the election result. Even after the outcome was finalized, they continued to demonstrate near a military base, reportedly hoping that the military would stage a coup.

The peaceful transition of power based on elections is a foundation of democracy. Damaging buildings that symbolize the three powers of the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government is nothing less than a rejection of the foundation of the nation. It is despicable.

Brazilian authorities must not only proceed with the prosecution of those detained, but also examine and rethink their security system.

Much of the blame for the current situation lies with Bolsonaro himself. During the presidential election campaign, he questioned the credibility of the electronic voting system, laying the groundwork to get his supporters to believe that his defeat was due to fraud.

Even after the election result was finalized, Bolsonaro did not clearly admit his own defeat and did not attend President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s inauguration ceremony on Jan. 1.

If Bolsonaro thinks there are flaws in the electronic voting system, it would have made sense for him to correct them during his presidency. When he won an election, he did not make allegations of fraud.

Staying in the United States, Bolsonaro condemned on Twitter the situation in which his supporters went on a rampage, while also writing that peaceful protest is part of democracy. Also, he did not directly call on his supporters to exercise restraint.

The attack on the capital by rioters has striking similarities with the occupation of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of previous President Donald Trump. Trump also did not accept his defeat in the presidential election and unilaterally blamed electoral fraud.

Since the time he was in office, Bolsonaro has taken a hostile view of forces critical of him and the media, and stirred up public opposition with his radical behavior. For that reason, he has been called the “Trump of Brazil.” It can be said that the dangers involved in such a political approach have been demonstrated once again.

In a democratic society, even when there are differences of opinion and conflicts, the existence of opponents is acknowledged and gaps are bridged through elections and parliamentary debates. It is important to remember that absolutism about one’s own views will deepen social divisions and undermine democracy.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 11, 2023)