When so-called leaders attempt to usurp democracy...
Jair Bolsonaro.

We can't say we are surprised by the assault on democracy in Brazil last week. After all, ex-president Mr Jair Bolsonaro — who lost the presidential election last October to Mr Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva — had, for years, sought to cast doubts on the reliability of Brazil's election system, even though it has earned kudos worldwide for its integrity.

In fact, Mr Bolsonaro, like his idol, former United States President Donald Trump, had gone as far as to suggest that he would not accept defeat.

Although he eventually handed power to Mr Lula da Silva, the former president, like a spoilt child, is yet to concede defeat or congratulate his opponent.

Mr Bolsonaro, apparently emboldened by the actions of some of his blinkered supporters who had blocked major highways in protest against the election result and had camped outside military bases to urge the army to intervene, added fuel to the fire by snubbing Mr Lula's inauguration on January 1.

Mr Bolsonaro left Brazil for the US two days before the ceremony, reportedly to avoid handing over the presidential sash to his successor, in keeping with tradition.

His imbecilic supporters — similar to those of Mr Trump who had stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 — invaded the seats of Government in Brasilia on January 8, breaking windows and furniture, destroying priceless works of art, and leaving graffiti messages calling for a military coup.

The federal police in Brazil, we are told, detained 1,843 people after the riot. Agence France Presse reported that most of the so-called "bolsonaristas" were taken from an encampment outside the army headquarters in the capital, where they had been protesting for two months, clamouring for the military to prevent Mr Lula's inauguration.

They are facing various charges, including terrorism, criminal association, involvement in an attack against the democratic state, participation in an attempted coup d'etat, and incitement to crime.

Two of the key ingredients of democracy are the staging of free and fair elections and acceptance of the results. Anyone who attempts to usurp those ideals is basically making the plunge into dictatorship and as such should be shunned by the global community.

Mr Bolsonaro is claiming that he "never had any relationship or participation" in the post-election protests and has blamed the violence on "infiltrators". And while he may point to the fact that he was not in the country at the time of the January 8 assault, he cannot deny that he had long sown the seeds of distrust in the democratic process — the same process that put him in office in 2019.

Last Friday a Supreme Court judge granted a request from the office of the prosecutor general for Mr Bolsonaro's inclusion in an investigation into the origins of the January 8 insurrection based on a video he had posted online questioning the regularity of the presidential elections.

The prosecutor is arguing that, although the video was posted online two days after the violent assault and later deleted, Mr Bolsonaro, by doing so, had "publicly incited the commission of a crime".

How that plays out is left to be seen. However, what has been made absolutely clear is that people like Mr Bolsonaro and his political idol are the antithesis of democracy. They should never be allowed to occupy any public leadership office again.

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