The Supreme Electoral Court of Brazil has reached a verdict, voting in favor of an eight-year ban on ex-president Jair Bolsonaro from seeking any public office. Bolsonaro has been held accountable for the misuse of his authority during the previous presidential poll.
The court found Bolsonaro guilty of abusing power and undermining Brazilian democracy by falsely asserting that the electronic ballots used in last year’s presidential poll were susceptible to hacking and fraud.
His attorneys are expected to appeal against the verdict, as they have argued that his statements had no bearing on the election result, based on their position.
Should the verdict be upheld, Bolsonaro’s candidacy for the next presidential election in 2026 will be invalidated, but he will have the chance to run again in 2030.
Reports indicate that the former president will face disqualification from the upcoming municipal elections in both 2024 and 2028. The case against him was primarily based on a speech he delivered during his presidency in 2022.
At an event on 18 July, held at his residence in Brasilia, he made false assertions to foreign diplomats, falsely suggesting that the electronic voting machines in Brazil were vulnerable to hacking and exposed to extensive fraud.
Bolsonaro stated that he ‘simply explained how elections work in Brazil’ and made it clear that he did not engage in any criticism or attack on the electoral system.
The delivery of the speech took place amidst a highly polarizing presidential race, with Bolsonaro facing off against his arch-rival, the left-leaning Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, for the coveted position of presidency.
The fiercely contested election proceeded to a run-off on 30 October and resulted in a razor-thin victory for Lula.
Bolsonaro, without publicly acknowledging his loss, left Brazil for Florida just two days prior to Lula’s inauguration as president, creating a notable absence during the transition of power.
Defying the election outcome, his supporters launched an attack on Brazil’s Congress, the presidential palace, and the Supreme Court building on 8 January.