Bolsonaro’s political future hangs in the balance as Brazilian court case begins

Bolsonaro’s Political Future Hangs In The Balance As Brazilian Court Case Begins
Thursday’s session in the capital, Brasilia, began with Judge Benedito Goncalves reading his report on the case. Photo: PA Images
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AP Reporter

Brazil’s top electoral court has begun hearing a case that could torpedo the political future of former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro by rendering him ineligible for public office for eight years.

Judges are evaluating a case filed by Brazil’s Democratic Labour Party, which claims the far-right leader abused his power by using government communication channels to promote his campaign and cast unfounded doubts on the country’s electronic voting system.


While Mr Bolsonaro often protested against the voting system, the suit’s focus is a meeting last year on July 18 that Mr Bolsonaro convened at the presidential palace with foreign ambassadors, which was broadcast on state television for nearly an hour.

Thursday’s session in the capital, Brasilia, began with Judge Benedito Goncalves reading his report on the case.



Already two subsequent sessions have been slated for next Tuesday and next Thursday, but the trial could extend for several months if any of the six other judges requests additional time to review the case.

The political party that filed the case will have time to make its arguments, as will Mr Bolsonaro’s lawyers.

In comments to journalists on Wednesday outside the Senate, the former president acknowledged he could be barred from public office, although he denied any wrongdoing.


“The evidence against him is very robust,” said Rodrigo Prando, a political science professor at Mackenzie University in Sao Paulo. “Bolsonaro speaks in live broadcasts, on Twitter. I never saw anyone provide so much material against himself as Bolsonaro did.”

In his report on the case, Paulo Gonet Branco, one of the top prosecutors at Brazil’s electoral court, recommended barring Mr Bolsonaro from public office.

The report will be analysed by the court’s panel, which is comprised of judges from Brazil’s two top courts, the Supreme Court and the superior court of justice, plus two appointees.

Jair Bolsonaro
Jair Bolsonaro is a former Brazilian president of Brazil (AP)

Mr Branco’s report asserts that Mr Bolsonaro misled voters about a Federal Police investigation into the 2018 elections in order to claim the voting system is not reliable and that he presented that information to ambassadors in the meeting last year.

The Supreme Court is simultaneously investigating the former president for having shared details of that investigation – a case proceeding under seal.

“I would like to remain 100 per cent active in politics, and taking away my political rights, which in my opinion is an affront, you lose a little bit of that fuel,” Mr Bolsonaro said on Thursday morning in comments published on his YouTube channel.


Mr Bolsonaro left Brazil for Florida days before his term ended, and returned on March 30th.

He has a ceremonial leadership role within his political party and has travelled around Brazil as a critic of Braziliam president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who defeated him in last October’s election that featured the narrowest margin in more than three decades.

On Thursday, Mr Bolsonaro travelled to the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre, where he will attend a transportation fair and an event of his Liberal Party.

If the electoral court strips Mr Bolsonaro of his political rights, he could appeal to the Supreme Court. However, there are other suits pending with the electoral court seeking the same outcome. And that is just a fraction of his legal troubles, which also include criminal investigations.

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