Judges Bar Bolsonaro From Running for Office Until 2030

Ex-Brazilian leader declared ineligible due to abuse of power, election fraud claims
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 30, 2023 1:12 PM CDT
Judges Bar Bolsonaro From Running for Office Until 2030
Brazil's former president, Jair Bolsonaro, leaves in a car after landing at the airport in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday.   (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

A panel of judges voted Friday to render far-right former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro ineligible to run for office again after concluding that he abused his power and cast unfounded doubts on the country's electronic voting system. The decision will forbid Bolsonaro from running until 2030, upending the 68-year-old's political future and likely erasing any chance for him to regain power, per the AP. Five of the seven judges on the nation's highest electoral court agreed that Bolsonaro abused his authority by using government communication channels to promote his campaign and sowing doubts about the vote. "This decision will end Bolsonaro's chances of being president again, and he knows it," said Carlos Melo, a political science professor at Insper University in Sao Paulo.

The case focused on a meeting last July 18 in which Bolsonaro used government staffers, the state television channel, and the presidential palace in Brasilia to tell foreign ambassadors that the country's electronic voting system was rigged. "Bolsonaro abused the powers of his office by calling the meeting: check. He used government staffers and buildings with an electoral objective: check. And he mixed the country's interests with those of his campaign: check," said Marlon Reis, an electoral law expert who helped draft the ineligibility provisions.

Bolsonaro will be able to appeal to the Supreme Court. He also faces other legal troubles, including criminal investigations. Speaking Thursday to reporters in Brasilia, Bolsonaro was defiant. "This is an injustice against me, my God in heaven! Show me something concrete I have done against democracy," he said. "Perhaps my crime was doing the right thing for four years." In an interview earlier this week, Bolsonaro recognized that his chances of prevailing were slim. The ruling will remove him from the 2024 and 2028 municipal elections, as well as the 2026 general elections. Future criminal convictions could extend his ban by years and subject him to imprisonment.

(More Jair Bolsonaro stories.)

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