Brazilian court barred former President Jair Bolsonaro, known for his far-right politics, from running for office until 2030. The judges concluded that Bolsonaro had abused his power and cast baseless doubts about the country’s electronic voting system. Effectively ending his political future and diminishing any prospects of regaining power.
Out of the seven judges on the nation’s highest electoral court, five agreed that Bolsonaro had utilized government communication channels to promote his campaign and spread distrust regarding the electoral process. Two judges dissented from the ruling.
Political science professor Carlos Melo from Insper University in Sao Paulo remarked, “This decision will end Bolsonaro’s chances of being president again, and he knows it. After this, he will try to stay out of jail and elect some of his allies to maintain his political capital. But it is very unlikely he will ever return to the presidency.”
The case revolved around a meeting on July 18, 2022, where Bolsonaro allegedly used government staff, the state television channel. And the presidential palace in Brasilia to inform foreign ambassadors that the electronic voting system was rigged.
In a decisive vote that formed a majority, Judge Carmen Lucia, who is also a Supreme Court justice, emphasized the undeniable facts surrounding the meeting. “The meeting did take place. It was convened by the then-president. Its content is available. It was examined by everyone, and there was never a denial that it did happen,” she stated.
Rejecting Populism: Justice Alexandre de Moraes’ Perspective
Justice Alexandre de Moraes, also from the Supreme Court, characterized the ruling as a rejection of “populism reborn from the flames of hateful, anti-democratic speech that promotes heinous disinformation.”
Speaking to reporters in Minas Gerais, Bolsonaro expressed his dissatisfaction with the trial. Labelling it unfair and politically motivated. When asked about his next steps, he responded, “We’re going to talk with the lawyers. Life goes on.” He further criticized the decision, considering it an attack on Brazilian democracy. Describing the situation as “a rather difficult moment.”
Melo noted that it is highly improbable for the decision to be overturned. As a result, Bolsonaro’s ban from running for office will extend to the 2024 and 2028 municipal elections. As well as the 2026 general elections. Apart from this setback, the former president also faces other legal issues, including ongoing criminal investigations. Any future criminal convictions could extend his ban and subject him to imprisonment.
While former President Fernando Collor de Mello and current President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva had previously been declared ineligible. Bolsonaro‘s case marks the first time a president has been suspended from running for election due to violations rather than a criminal offence. Brazilian law prohibits candidates with criminal sentences from seeking office.