The front-runner in the polls for the October presidential election in Brazil, former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, declared on Saturday that he will not tolerate threats against institutions and that the armed forces must commit to democracy.
“It is necessary to overcome authoritarianism and anti-democratic threats. We will not tolerate any kind of threat on the institutions that represent the popular vote,” Lula said in a speech given in Salvador, in the northeast of Brazil.
The event honoring the State of Bahia’s independence was attended by three other presidential candidates, including the incumbent right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro.
From 2003 to 2011, Lula led the country as president.
Though military officials have made headlines by reiterating Bolsonaro’s remarks about potential flaws in Brazil’s voting system, military leaders have repeatedly stated that Brazil’s armed forces will respect any election result.
Bolsonaro, a former Army captain, has appointed several military personnel to important positions in the government that have typically been filled by civilians. He proposed in May that the military hold a separate, parallel vote count in addition to the court.
Since last year, Bolsonaro has threatened to reject the results of the October presidential election. He has also attempted, but failed, to amend the Brazilian Constitution to change the country’s voting system, calling for a switch back to paper ballots. He bases these actions on persistent, unsubstantiated allegations of voting system fraud in the nation.
“It is necessary to re-establish an environment of political, economic and institutional stability that provides confidence and security to investments that are of interest to the country’s development.” Lula said at the event on Saturday.
He defended the military’s importance to the nation while highlighting the need for them to support democracy.
“The independent and sovereign Brazil that we want cannot give up its armed forces. Not only well-trained and equipped, but, above all, committed to democracy,” said Lula.
In a Datafolha opinion poll conducted at the end of June, Lula drew 47% support of compared to Bolsonaro’s 28%.