An analysis by Agência Pública details how Bolsonaro copied Trump’s main tactics after losing the presidential election

16 de dezembro de 2022
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The tension that has taken over Brazil since the 2022 presidential election is not spontaneous. Nor original. It is simply a step in a strategy employed by Jair Bolsonaro since his election victory in 2018 which closely mimics the strategy used by the U.S.’ former president Donald Trump.

Agência Pública has analyzed the main tactics used by Trump during the 2020 presidential elections and compared them with the actions of Bolsonaro and his closest allies.

From filing lawsuits to the production of false dossiers and spreading of false news about the two voting systems, the similarities between the behaviors of the two men before and after the elections make it clear that we are dealing with a Playbook – a manual on how to erode confidence in the election outcome, keep voters engaged and lay the foundation for attempts to destabilize democratic institutions.

This “manual” is not replicated in Brazil by chance. The Bolsonaro family has put an extensive amount of time and effort into forming alliances in the United States. Eduardo Bolsonaro, one of Jair Bolsonaro’s sons, met with the American far-right ideologue Steve Bannon in August 2018. A few months later, he was appointed the South American representative of The Movement, a network of right-wing political parties. Since then, Eduardo has met with a number of Trump’s main allies 77 times, as Agência Publica revealed in September 2022.

Eduardo maintains relationships with the key figures who pushed false claims of fraud in the 2020 U.S. elections, such as businessman Mike Lindell, activist Ali Alexander, who coordinated the “Stop The Steal” campaign, and Bannon himself. These men all went on to spread the false narrative that the Brazilian presidential elections had also been stolen.

On November 10, 2022, shortly after Luís Inácio Lula da Silva’s presidential victory, Eduardo Bolsonaro traveled to the United States where he met with Donald Trump at his resort in Mar-a-Lago, Florida. He then went to South Florida, where he had lunch with Jason Miller, the CEO of the social media platform Gettr who traveled to Brazil twice in 2022 alone to attend events in support of Bolsonaro’s reelection. He also revealed to the Washington Post that he spoke to Steve Bannon on the phone. It was Bannon who coined the term “Brazilian Spring” in an attempt to characterize the putschist demonstrations in Brazil as a “broad democratic movement”, associating them with the Arab Spring. The hashtag has made it to Twitter’s Trending Topics several times since the election.

The following is a summary comparing the main tactics of both movements.

1.Sowing Doubt

Shortly after being elected, both Trump and Bolsonaro began stating that there had been electoral fraud that put them at a disadvantage, sowing a seed of doubt in the electoral system from the beginning of their terms.

Since 2016, when he was elected president of the United States, Donald Trump has fomented the idea that American elections are marred by fraud. Mere days after his victory, he stated that he would have also won the popular vote “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally”. He has since repeated this lie several times. According to this false narrative, Democrats used illegal immigrants to achieve Hillary Clinton’s higher number of popular votes. In a 2019 interview, Trump said that the state of California had admitted to having counted one million illegal votes. This is also a lie.

But the press ran with all of Trump’s false statements – and Trump supporters reverberated the lies on social media, further strengthening his narrative.

Jair Bolsonaro did just the same thing. A year after taking office, he claimed to “have evidence” that he would have won the 2018 presidential election in the first round if there hadn’t been fraud. “I believe that, based on the evidence I have in my hands, which I will reveal soon, that I was elected in the first round, but in my opinion there was fraud. And we are not just saying it, we have proof. I want to show it to you soon. We need to approve a safe system for counting votes in Brazil”, he said in Miami, on March 9, 2020.

He would repeat this same lie over and over again during his weekly live broadcasts to his supporters. The evidence, of course, never existed. But the rumor spread like wildfire across social media and pro-Bolsonaro websites.

In October 2018, lawyer Ricardo Freire Vasconcellos and engineer Vicente Paulo de Lima filed a complaint claiming to have found differing voting data. The Supreme Electoral Court (known by its acronym in Portuguese, TSE) opened a proceeding and released a verdict on February 15, 2019, dismissing the accusation as unfounded.

Even so, the rumor continued to be spread by Bolsonaro supporters on social media throughout the following years. In August 2020, a video claiming that the Federal Police had discovered that Bolsonaro won the election in the first round with 78% of votes trended on social media. The video was disproved almost immediately by Brazilian fact-checking agency Aos Fatos, but continued to circulate.

In January 2022, Bolsonaro claimed once again that he should have won the 2018 elections in the first round during an official event in Macapá, the capital of the northern state of Amapá. In July, he repeated the lie and claimed that there had also been fraud in the 2014 elections. “We will show [that there was fraud in] 2014, in the 2018 election, where I won in the first round. I am not just saying it, I can prove it”, he told supporters in front of the Alvorada Palace, the official presidential residence. 

He caused yet another stir on social media by stating that he would provide evidence of election fraud during his weekly live broadcast on July 29. However, during the transmission, Bolsonaro only referred to disinformation that had already been denied, such as a manipulated video showing an electronic voting machine supposedly automatically selecting the Workers’ Party (PT) voting number during the 2018 elections.

2.Using government institutions to spread lies

Both Trump and Bolsonaro used public institutions to back up their bogus theories regarding election fraud.

In May 2017, Donald Trump used his unfounded allegation about votes fraudulently cast by Democrats to set up a presidential commission on election integrity. The commission was led by then Vice President Mike Pence and then Secretary of State of Kansas Kris Kolbach. Having found no evidence of fraud, the commission was terminated in August of the following year. But the mere existence of this institutional initiative helped to reinforce the voter fraud narrative and fuel the conspiracy theories circulating on social media.

Bolsonaro did the same thing on multiple fronts, and even more successfully than Trump.

His first endeavor began in 2019 within the Institutional Security Office (GSI) attached to the presidency, headed by Generals Heleno and Luiz Eduardo Ramos.

According to newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, Marcelo Abrileri, an electronics technician who claimed to have found evidence of fraud in the 2014 elections, was approached in 2019 by General Luiz Eduardo Ramos and invited to a meeting with former president Bolsonaro at the Planalto presidential palace. In July 2021, the technician was again contacted by Ramos, and spoke on the phone with Bolsonaro. During this conversation he was told that they were gathering extensive information about potential fraud in the electronic voting machines. “General Ramos asked the declarant to talk a bit about the information he had discovered”, Abrileri told the Federal Police. Abrileri’s data was shared by Bolsonaro in some of his live broadcasts on social media.

The campaign against Brazil’s voting system was taken over by the Defense Ministry after its then-head General Fernando Azevedo was fired by Bolsonaro on March 29, 2021, which led to the resignation of the three commanders of the Armed Forces. Under Azevedo’s predecessor, General Paulo Sérgio Nogueira, the Defense Ministry was invited by the Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) to take part in the Electoral Transparency Commission. Azevedo took advantage of this position in order to sow confusion and mistrust against the electoral system by repeating the same questions on the security of the voting machines.

Many of the Defense Ministry’s suggestions were rejected by the TSE based on data and facts, and others were accepted – such as adopting biometric identification of voters in the integrity test voting machines undergo on Election Day – but none of this stopped the ministry from continuing to cast doubt on the electoral system. In addition to publishing a report that, whilst claiming it was not possible to prove there was fraud, also claims it could “not exclude the possibility of fraud or inconsistencies” in the 2022 elections – an aberration from a legal perspective –, the Defense Ministry sent soldiers to carry out a “parallel audit” of the results in some electoral precincts.

The Defense Ministry’s actions were intended to give the illusion that the military had the power to question the election result – which they do not. They also definitely had an influence on the pro-coup demonstrators that blocked roads and camped in front of military headquarters after Bolsonaro’s defeat.

Lastly, on July 18, 2022, the government engaged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the General Secretariat of the Presidency to organize a meeting with dozens of foreign diplomats in which Bolsonaro presented claims regarding supposed vulnerabilities of Brazil’s electronic voting system that had already been repeatedly debunked by fact-checkers and electoral authorities. The meeting was broadcast on the public television network TV Brasil.

But the plan backfired. Following the event, the U.S. Embassy in Brazil released a public note calling the country’s electronic voting system “a model for the world” and the University of São Paulo’s Law School organized a mobilization centered around the reading of a letter – signed by almost 1 million people – denouncing the president’s attacks against the electoral system and defending the democratic rule of law.

3.Stoking doubt about the electoral system with the help of allied Congressmen

Even before their reelection attempts, both Trump and Bolsonaro counted on allied congressmen to help stoke doubts about their countries’ electoral systems.

In 2018, Republican House Leaders Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy took the floor to claim that there had been electoral fraud, referring to four races in California in which Republican candidates were ahead in early vote counts but lost their leads when late-mail ballots were counted.

In Brazil, Bolsonaro relied on his close ally in the Chamber of Deputies Bia Kicis, author of a Constitutional Amendment Bill (PEC) that would make the printing of a “voting receipt” mandatory to allow for a recount.

“Every electoral system is susceptible to fraud, [whether it is] paper-based, digital or even with printed ballots. The difference is that without a printed ballot, fraud leaves no trace, while in other methods, crime leaves a trace and there can be a recount/audit. Our system is like a murder without corpus delicti”, Kicis wrote on Twitter in November 2020. The bill was rejected by Congress in August 2021.

4.Fake news and memes about election security

Right before the elections, Trump and Bolsonaro supporters spread rumors of election fraud on social media. In the U.S., a month before the election, Trump claimed that paper ballots had been thrown into a river in Wisconsin. In September 2020, one of his campaign’s staff members tweeted about a handful of ballots that had been mistakenly discarded.

In Brazil, posts about election fraud saw a spike in engagement on the eve of the first round of voting, according to Núcleo Jornalismo. Disinformation that had already been debunked, such as the rumor that voting machines had automatically selected the Workers’ Party’s number, started to circulate again. Over the weekend of the first round of voting, four of the top five poor-quality chain messages shared in public WhatsApp groups monitored by Radar Aos Fatos mentioned voter fraud.

5.Efforts to block voting in opposition-majority areas

In the U.S., Trump allies resorted to a number of ploys to prevent voters more likely to vote for Democrats from getting to the polls.

In North Carolina, his supporters went to court to ask for stricter rules of voter identification, which would mainly affect Black voters, who are more likely to vote for Democrats. According to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice, 70.9 percent of eligible white voters cast ballots in the 2020 elections, compared with only 58.4 percent of non-white voters.

They didn’t even try to hide their motives. While defending Arizona’s voting restrictions before the Supreme Court in March 2021, an attorney for the Republican National Committee admitted that the party’s interest was to prevent “a competitive disadvantage relative to Democrats”. When commenting on proposals to expand access to mail-in voting, President Trump asserted that this would lead to “levels of voting that if you’d ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again”.

In Brazil, Bolsonaro’s campaign even went to the Supreme Electoral Court asking for the provision of regular transportation by Brazilian municipalities to be limited – an action that would adversely affect poor people who rely on public transportation to get to the polls. In his ruling, electoral judge Benedito Gonçalves said that the request was “absurd”. According to polls, Lula’s lead over Bolsonaro was larger among the lower classes.

On the day of the second round, Brazil’s Federal Highway Police (PRF) conducted multiple roadblocks of buses transporting voters to allegedly check if the vehicles were in compliance with traffic laws. This caused delays and inconvenience to thousands of voters trying to get to polling stations. An investigation by Agência Pública revealed that there were 5 times more PRF operations in Brazil’s Northeast, a region known as a stronghold of Lula voters, compared to the South Region, where there is a majority of Bolsonaro voters.

6.Calling for supporters to act as election “inspectors” and refusing to accept an unfavorable outcome

In his first debate against Joe Biden on September 30, 2020, Trump was asked whether he would urge supporters “not to engage in any civil unrest” during the vote counting process.

“I’m urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully”, Trump responded. “If it’s a fair election, I’m 100% on board. But if I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated, I can’t go along with that.”

Bolsonaro repeated this statement almost verbatim several times. On August 23, 2022, in an interview with TV Globo’s Jornal Nacional, a nightly newscast with the largest audience in Brazil, he set conditions for accepting the election result.

“Whatever [the outcome] is, clean elections must be respected. The results of the polls will be respected, as long as the elections are clean and transparent”, he said.

By then, Bolsonaro had already evaded the question on multiple occasions. In May 2022, when asked whether he would pledge to accept the outcome of the electronic ballots regardless of the outcome, even if he was not re-elected, Bolsonaro did not respond. He simply stated: “Democratically, I expect clean elections”.

A little more than a year earlier, in a live broadcast to his supporters, Bolsonaro said that he would only accept a defeat against Lula in the presidential elections “if Lula returns [to compete] for direct votes, for auditable vote”.

Lastly, like Trump, Bolsonaro called on his voters to go to polling stations to “inspect” the voting process, using false claims of fraud as an excuse.

His campaign launched a website called “Bolsonaro’s Inspectors” on which any citizen could sign up to be an election inspector. This goes against Brazil’s election law, which regulates the activity of election inspectors at polling stations.

7.Stop the count

In the early morning following the 2020 U.S. election, Trump demanded that the vote tallying be stopped. According to him, more time was needed to investigate fraud allegations – invented and amplified by his own allies.

On the eve of the Brazilian elections, the Bolsonaro campaign attempted a similar move. Communications Minister Fábio Faria and former head of the Special Secretariat for Social Communication (Secom) Fábio Wajngarten called a press conference to present allegations that Bolsonaro’s campaign had been harmed by the fact that some of the candidate’s mandatory radio spots hadn’t been broadcast in accordance with the election law.

Fábio Faria then called for the elections to be postponed until the complaint was investigated – he would later say that he regretted making this request. But he wasn’t alone. Eduardo Bolsonaro repeated the request in an interview, and Bolsonaro supporters quickly spread this demand on social media.

“You have one candidate who is being undermined and one who is being favored. This is hurting democracy. If Jair Bolsonaro was granted the full right of reply [time he is entitled to] that’s so much time that it would be necessary to postpone this election”, Eduardo said during an interview with Bahia-state website BNews.

At the same time, the National Advocacy Institute (Inad), a little-known institution, sent an official letter to the head of the Public Prosecutor’s Office requesting that the second round of the presidential election be postponed.

Bolsonaro’s Liberal Party (PL) requested that the Supreme Electoral Court launch an inquiry into these allegations. However, the TSE promptly rejected the lawsuit, and the radio stations involved in the case publicly stated that it was the Bolsonaro campaign who had failed to send the pieces they were supposed to broadcast.

In addition, a report sent by the party to the Supreme Court (TSE) recorded at least 9,764 more spots than those actually broadcasted by the aforementioned radio stations, according to fact-checking agency Aos Fatos.

8.Not conceding defeat

In an early-morning speech after his defeat, Trump said in no uncertain terms that he had won the election and that fraud had taken place.

“This is a fraud on the American public. This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election. So our goal now is to ensure the integrity, for the good of this nation. This is a very big moment. This is a major fraud on our nation” he said.

Bolsonaro, on the other hand, took 44 hours to make a statement but, like the American, did not acknowledge his defeat. Instead, he said the election process had been unfair and praised the protesters who were already blocking roads across the country to oppose the results of the popular vote.

“The popular movements currently taking place are the result of outrage and a feeling of injustice about the way the electoral process was carried out. Peaceful demonstrations are always welcome, but our methods cannot be those of the left, which have always harmed the people, such as invading properties, destroying public buildings, and curtailing the right to come and go”, he said.

Steve Bannon, the mentor of right-wing populist movements across the globe, took it a step further. “Bolsonaro can’t concede”, he told right-wing website Rumble still on October 30, not long after the results of the Brazilian election were officially released. “This election was stolen in broad daylight… outrageous,” he wrote on Gettr the next day.

9. Involving their political parties in efforts to overturn election results

Shortly after the election, Trump called certain members of the Republican party to demand that they request new vote counts in their states.

In a conversation leaked to the Washington Post, Trump pressured Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperge to “find” enough votes to overturn Joe Biden’s victory. “All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state”, he said. “There’s no way I lost Georgia. There’s no way. We won by hundreds of thousands of votes.”

For his part, Bolsonaro pressured his party, the PL, ahead of the election to hire a company to audit voting machines and look for loopholes in the electoral system that could be used for future questioning of the election result. The company Instituto Voto Legal, hired by the PL for R$ 1.3 million, released a report stating that 279,000 electronic voting machines, 60% of the total, could not be identified and that part of the analyzed equipment had crashed and had to be turned off.

Once again, there was no evidence that these findings would have interfered with the vote tallying in any way. But the report was later used by Bolsonaro’s party in legal attempts to annul hundreds of thousands of votes.

10. Setting “deadlines” and ambiguous statements

After the second round, content shared by pro-Bolsonaro influencers on social media hinted at “deadlines” in case Bolsonaro or the Armed Forces would take action to overturn the election results in order to keep his supporters engaged/mobilized.

On October 31, content shared by Bolsonaro supporters on social media claimed that Brazil’s Constitution foresaw that the Armed Forces could carry out a military “intervention” if protests against the election outcome lasted for more than 72 hours.

After that, the next dates considered as the “D-Day” were November 5, the day on which the Ministry of Defense had announced the release of their election integrity report, and November 15, the day on which Brazil celebrates the Proclamation of the Republic.

The day of Lula’s victory certification by the TSE, December 19, was also indicated as a date for which it was necessary to wait before Bolsonaro could finally act.

After Lula’s certification was moved up to December 12, multiple posts on social media asked Bolsonaro supporters and demonstrators to stay calm, claiming that, after the certification, there was a 15-day waiting period before they could officially question the election result, which would be done. “The calm before the storm,” one Tweet user wrote.

After this, the new deadline became January 1, 2023, inauguration day. Pro-Bolsonaro campaigners ran with the new plan, putting the sentence “The thief will not go up the [presidential palace’s] ramp” on Twitter’s Trending Topics on more than one occasion.

This is a classic strategy in digital marketing: generating a sense of “urgency” to drive people to action. In digital populism, these imaginary deadlines keep supporters engaged and mobilized while waiting for a moment that will never come.

What happened in Brazil is a replica of what happened in the U.S. after Trump’s defeat. In the U.S., the “deadlines” followed important dates in the complex American post-election calendar: December 8 was the deadline for electoral authorities to make final decisions on fraud allegations; On December 14, Electoral College voters meet in their respective States to officially vote for their chosen candidates (the US election is indirect). December 23 was the deadline for the Certificates of Vote to be received by Congress.

After that, the key date was January 6, the day of Congress meeting to count and announce the results of the Electoral College vote. A traditional ritual that Trump turned into a “deadline” to pressure Republican congressmen to only count votes in his favor.

This is how the former American president managed to keep his supporters mobilized up until the day of the massive protest, organized and funded by his campaign, that led to the Capitol invasion.

On that day, in front of thousands of people and within walking distance from Congress, Trump told the crowd, “We are going to walk to the Capitol and we are going to root for our brave senators, congressmen and women, and we are probably not going to root for some of them that much. We will never get our country back if we are weak. We have to show strength, and you have to be strong. We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count voters who have been legally nominated.”

His speech was carefully elaborated to be ambiguous, a tactic to keep supporters occupied trying to “figure out” in endless discussions on social media what could be the leader’s subliminal message. At the same time, the absence of a clear order is a careful tactic to avoid criminal liability for instigating coup acts.

Bolsonaro reproduced the very same tactics in Brazil. Two days after Lula’s election victory was confirmed, he addressed supporters saying that “nothing is lost” and that “you are the ones who decide where the Armed Forces are going” – a statement that was interpreted as a “code” meaning that, if the protesters maintained their camps outside the Army’s headquarters, the military would finally intervene.

11. Misinfographics – losing the election was “statistically impossible”

On December 20, 2020, after memes depicting false statistical projections that allegedly “demonstrated” that the Republican had actually won the election had been circulating on social media for months, Trump tweeted: “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election…. Big protest in DC on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!” It was the former president’s first direct call for a rally that would lead to the Capitol invasion.

Bolsonaro supporters also relied on shoddy social media videos to explain how “mathematically” the vote counting did not make sense – an example of misinfographics, according to the Media Manipulation Casebook.

The most notorious case was that of the Argentinian website Derecha Diário – whose owner is a friend of Eduardo Bolsonaro and claims to have visited Brazil shortly before the second round of the 2022 Brazilian election  – which published a “dossier” with false information about a new model of voting machines that allegedly registered more votes for Lula. The website’s owner, Fernando Cerimedo, used this lie as a basis to discount a number of votes and claim that Bolsonaro would have actually won the election. He was suspended from a number of social media platforms for spreading fake news.

12. Legal battle

On November 4, 2020, Trump’s lawyers began an unprecedented legal battle, challenging the election result in several courts. No less than 62 lawsuits were filed based on allegations that had already been debunked. 61 lawsuits were promptly dismissed by federal and state courts. 

Trump’s lawyers then went to the Supreme Court to challenge the election results in several states, such as Pennsylvania. The U.S.’ Supreme Court also rejected Trump’s judicial ploy, prompting the former president to call the court “coward” on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Bolsonaro pressured his party, the PL, to file a lawsuit before the TSE to request the annulment of votes cast in 60% of the electronic voting machines, on the basis of the report released by the audit company hired by his party, Instituto Voto Legal (Legal Vote Institute). The request ignored, however, that the same machines identified by Instituto Voto Legal as problematic had been used in the first round, when his party elected the largest number of candidates to Congress. The request was promptly rejected by the TSE’s president, justice Alexandre de Moraes, and the PL was fined $4 million for bringing the case “in bad faith”.

Nevertheless, Bolsonaro did not give up. There are reports that he is now pressuring his party’s president, Valdemar Costa Neto, to file another lawsuit requesting the annulment of Lula’s certification.

13. Attempts to involve the military

In addition to the military’s interference in the vote count, Bolsonaro also met with the Armed Forces commanders on the day he broke his silence after his defeat. He consulted the military on the possibility of a legal battle to challenge the election result on the grounds that the elected candidate should have been considered ineligible due to past convictions in the Lava Jato operation.

Military sources heard by CNN Brasil said that the Armed Forces, however, did not support the president.

Two years earlier, Trump had already considered inserting the military into his anti-democratic plan. White House sources reportedly said that Trump had considered imposing martial law in a move designed to overturn the outcome of the 2020 election.

It reportedly came after Michael Flynn, the former president’s first national security adviser, floated the idea in an interview with the right-wing news outlet Newsmax. Shortly after that, during a White House meeting attended by Flynn, Trump asked his aides how martial law works, sources told the New York Times

The goal was to impose a state of exception so that the military could recount the votes. Fortunately, the crazy suggestion did not go ahead and the Commander of the General Staff of the US Armed Forces acted behind the scenes to contain Trump’s coup spirit.

Fortunately, the deranged proposal did not go forward, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the U.S. Armed Forces worked behind the scenes to rein in Trump’s putschists intentions.

14. It was the “left” who invaded the Capitol

After the Capitol was stormed Donald Trump’s supporters claimed that the violent acts were actually committed by “Antifa” members who had infiltrated the demonstration organized by “peaceful” Trump supporters and “good citizens”. This claim, which went viral in right-wing circles within minutes, was debunked by fact-checkers.

Similarly, after the violent demonstration in which Bolsonaro supporters set fire to buses and tried to invade the Federal Police headquarters in Brasilia on the day of Lula’s victory certification, the same type of disinformation was spread on social media. A commentator from right-wing media group Jovem Pan went so far as to say that the riots were a “leftist” setup. Meanwhile, pro-Bolsonaro influencers such as the “Te Atualizei” profile, with almost 2 million followers on Twitter, brought photos that supposedly showed that the violent protesters were not from the Right.

Another piece of misinformation – that was debunked by Agência Lupa – claimed that Lula’s official photographer Ricardo Stuckert had infiltrated the demonstrations to commit acts of vandalism.

15. Refusing to pass the presidential sash 

Donald Trump was the first U.S. president in 150 years who refused to attend his successor’s inauguration ceremony. Bolsonaro has already informed that he will be the first Brazilian president after the country’s redemocratization not to pass the presidential sash.

In both cases, this tactic disrupts an important symbolic tradition for the peaceful and democratic transition of power. By doing this, both men seeking to delegitimize their successors from the very beginning of their term in office.

What happens afterwards?

Even after Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, 2021, Donald Trump maintained the narrative that he had been a victim of fraud, using this story to retain his political capital and his control over the Republican party. And also to make a lot of money. A funding campaign to “defend the election” and prove the fraud managed to raise $250 million. According to The Guardian, a large part of the money ended up going to Trump’s hotels.

With more than 50% of Republican voters convinced that there has been fraud, rejecting Joe Biden’s victory turned out to be an important electoral asset. More than 100 candidates in the U.S.’ 2022 midterm elections backed up Trump’s claim that the election was stolen. Although many of them did not get elected, it goes to show that Trump still holds great power within the U.S.’ right-wing circles.

Bolsonaro can either use this “capital” to remain at the forefront of the Brazilian Right, or to benefit his son most closely linked to his American mentors, Eduardo Bolsonaro. After all, he has already founded an institute that organizes conservative congresses imported from the US, and sells “courses” to “critically educate” right-wing Brazilians – yet another major source of revenue for the Trump supporters who have doubled down on lies about electoral fraud.

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