Brazil’s Far-Right Bolsonaro Barred from Office Until 2030

Brazil’s top electoral court, the TSE, on Friday reached a majority on a motion to bar former President Jair Bolsonaro from public office until 2030 as a result of his behavior during the previous presidential election campaign.

Five of the seven judges on the TSE voted in favor of suspending Bolsonaro, while two opposed the idea.

Bolsonaro called the decision a “stab in the back” and said he planned to appeal the ruling at the Supreme Court.

“I’m not dead, we’re going to keep working,” he told journalists.

Bolsonaro is accused of creating a nationwide movement seeking to overturn last October’s narrow election defeat to his leftist rival Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Bolsonaro’s campaign culminated in the January 8 invasion of government buildings in Brasília by thousands of his supporters.

At the time of the unrest, Bolsonaro was in Florida, but prosecutors link his earlier comments about the vote to his supporters’ later actions.

Particularly at issue was a July meeting, before the vote, when Bolsonaro summoned foreign ambassadors to vent unfounded claims about Brazil’s voting machines being prone to fraud, as he embarked on a campaign first undermining the election and then questioning the validity of his defeat that would prove eerily reminiscent to that of Donald Trump in the US roughly a year before.

The lead justice in the case, Benedito Gonçalves, voted earlier in the week to make the former army captain ineligible for political office for eight years, saying that he had “used the meeting with ambassadors to spread doubts and incite conspiracy theories” ahead of the vote.

The Brazilian ex-president trod a slightly more fine line than Trump did after his election defeat in 2020, not explicitly claiming to be the rightful winner in quite the same manner, but also refusing to congratulate Lula or to concede defeat. He left for Florida two days before his term ended, skipping Lula’s inauguration.

He returned to Brazil in March after his self-imposed transitional exile, but has been keeping a comparatively low profile since then.

It’s not the only legal difficulty the former president is caught up in. He also faces five Supreme Court investigations, including for allegedly inciting the January 8 attacks.

Brazilian federal police are also investigating allegations that an aide faked a COVID immunization certificate for the vaccine-skeptic Bolsonaro, and that Bolsonaro tried to illegally take possession of jewelry worth millions given as a gift to his wife by Saudi Arabia in 2021.

DW

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