Brazil court bars former president Jair Bolsonaro from elections until 2030

Brazil Court Bars Former President Jair Bolsonaro From Elections Until 2030
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By Mauricio Savarese and Diane Jeantet, Associated Press

A panel of judges voted on Friday to make 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 forbids Mr Bolsonaro, 68, from running until 2030, upending his political future and likely erasing any chance for him to regain power.


Five judges on the highest electoral court agreed that Mr Bolsonaro abused his authority by using government communication channels to promote his campaign and sowing doubts about the vote. Two judges voted against.

“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.

“After this, he will try to stay out of jail, elect some of his allies to keep his political capital, but it is very unlikely he will ever return to the presidency.”



The case focused on a July 18 2022, meeting where Mr Bolsonaro used government staff, the state television channel and the presidential palace in Brasilia to tell foreign ambassadors that the country’s electronic voting system was rigged.

In her decisive vote that formed a majority, Judge Carmen Lucia, who is also a supreme court justice, said “the facts are incontrovertible”.


“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 said.

Alexandre de Moraes, also a supreme court justice, said the decision represents rejection of “populism reborn from the flames of hateful, antidemocratic speech that promotes heinous disinformation”.

Speaking to reporters, Mr Bolsonaro said the trial was unfair and vowed to appeal against the court’s decision .

“We’re going to talk with the lawyers. Life goes on,” he said when asked what his next step would be.


He called the ruling an attack on Brazilian democracy. “It’s a rather difficult moment.”



Mr Melo said the decision is “very unlikely” to be overturned.

It removes him from the 2024 and 2028 municipal elections as well as the 2026 general elections.

The former president also faces other legal troubles, including criminal investigations. Future criminal convictions could extend his ban by years and subject him to imprisonment.

Former president Fernando Collor de Mello and current President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva were declared ineligible in the past, but Mr Bolsonaro’s case marks the first time a president has been suspended for election violations rather than a criminal offence.

Brazilian law forbids candidates with criminal sentences from running for office.

Mr Lula’s eligibility was reinstated by Brazil’s top court following rulings that then-judge and now senator Sergio Moro was biased when he sentenced him to almost 10 years in prison for corruption and money laundering.

Mr Bolsonaro holds a ceremonial leadership role within his Liberal Party and has travelled around Brazil criticising Mr Lula, who won last October’s election with the narrowest margin in more than three decades.

Thousands of Bolsonaro supporters stormed government buildings on January 8, one week after Mr Lula took power, in an attempt to oust him from power.

Swift jailing and prosecution of hundreds of those who took part had a chilling effect on their rejection of the election’s results.

Federal police are investigating Mr Bolsonaro’s role in inciting the uprising; he has denied any wrongdoing.

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