The former President of Brazil came close to being removed from the upcoming electoral contests after the examining judge in the most mature case against him on Tuesday night, in the Supreme Electoral Court, voted in favor of excluding him for eight years, until 2030. Judge Benedetto Gonçalves finds that it has been proven that the far-right politician used his position As head of state, in a meeting with foreign ambassadors accredited to the Brazilian authorities, to “spoil the electoral environment” three months before the elections, “to incite a state of collective paranoia” and to infuse “conspiracy theories” with “false information and outrageous lies”. The judge came to accuse the former president of “flirting with the coup.”
This is the most advanced of the 16 investigations opened against Bolsonaro, who is also in the crosshairs of justice for the coup d’état in Brasilia, the jewels gifted by Saudi Arabia that tried to stay put, the pandemic or his treatment of indigenous people.
After the examining magistrate’s vote, the second session of Bolsonaro’s trial concluded. It will resume on Thursday, when six more judges of the Supreme Electoral Court still have to vote. The rapporteur’s vote indicates a path that the rest of the court can follow. Even Bolsonaro admits the chances of him being convicted are high. In any case, he is confident that one of the judges will ask for a break to study the case in more detail – which is a frequent occurrence – and thus buy time.
The examining judge, when reading a summary of some of the nearly 400-page arguments, stressed that “the anti-democratic effects of violent rhetoric and lies that threaten the credibility of electoral justice cannot be overlooked.” Last July, there were three months left for the presidential elections when Bolsonaro, in his capacity as President of the Republic, summoned the diplomatic corps accredited to Brasilia. He gave them a speech, which was broadcast live on public television, full of attacks on the electoral process in general and the Supreme Electoral Court in particular. It was an episode in his systematic campaign to question the security and legality of the voting system.
After the electoral defeat, Bolsonaro’s supporters camped out in front of barracks across Brazil to demand that the army move forward and prevent the installation of leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. A week after he assumed power on New Year’s Day, thousands of Bolsonaristas launched a violent attack on the headquarters of the three powers in Brasília. Bolsonaro is being investigated for encouraging the coup attempt.
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If Bolsonaro is convicted in this case and is excluded until 2030, he can appeal to the Supreme Court, which in any case is presided over by a judge who is also a member of the electoral court that is now ruling him and that fired him. A crusade to defend democracy, to neutralize the tics of the far right.
If Bolsonaro is permanently removed from the election, the name emerging strongly as a potential successor at the head of the Brazilian right is that of Sao Paulo governor Tarcisio de Freitas, a retired military man who made a career in administration. It also appears that former first lady Michelle Bolsonaro, a woman of good speech and evangelicalism, or she could be one of the three political sons of the patriarch Bolsonaro even though they were never as attractive to voters as their father.
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