Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has been disqualified for misinformation

Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has been disqualified for misinformation

Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on June 29, 2023 at Santos Dumont Airport in Rio (MAURO PIMENTEL / AFP)

Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was sentenced Friday to eight years of disqualification for “abuse of power,” a shattering chapter over “false” information he posted on an electronic voting system before his 2022 election defeat.

M. Bolsonaro, 68 years old, had a “coupe of poignard in the dos” after this jugment that he had the honor of being president of 2026 and the battle for his success at the end of the droite and the last straight.

“We are on our way to dictatorship,” he said in a thunderous voice, and immediately announced that he would appeal to the Supreme Court. “I’m not dead, we’ll keep going (…). It’s not the end of the right in Brazil,” the far-right leader told the press during a trip to Belo Horizonte in the southeast of the country.

Friday’s session was decisive: it secured a majority, before a final result of five votes to two of the seven judges of the Supreme Electoral Court in Brasília, ending with a conviction in the form of a thunderbolt.

Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro speaks to the press at Santos Dumont Airport in Rio, June 29, 2023.
Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro speaks to the press at Santos Dumont Airport in Rio on June 29, 2023. (MAURO PIMENTEL / AFP)

Absent from the four sessions of this trial, which began last week, was the conviction of the former head of state (2019-2022) of “abuse of political power and improper use of means of communication.”

At issue: his criticisms are devoid of evidence against the unreliability of electronic ballot boxes, a few months before his left-wing rival Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva won the ballot.

The court had warned before the election that it “will not recognize criminal extremism” or “falsified information and disinformation with the aim of misleading voters”, launched by the President of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal Alexandre de Morais.

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Justice Minister Flavio Dino, a senior figure in Lula’s government, did not hide his satisfaction after the verdict. “Democracy has won its toughest test in decades,” he said.

“great story”

A speech Mr. Bolsonaro gave in July 2022 to diplomats at the Alvorada presidential residence, broadcast on public television and social networks, was at the center of the trial. The former military captain said he wanted to “correct the defects” in electronic voting “with the participation of the armed forces.”

This rhetoric about the supposed weakness, leading to fraud, of the electoral system, and this nostalgia for the military dictatorship (1964-1985) would influence him during his election campaign.

He infuriated his most radical supporters who stormed and looted the seats of the executive, legislative and judicial authorities in Brasília on January 8th, a few days after Lula’s inauguration.

Plenary session of Brazil's Supreme Electoral Court during the second day of the trial of former President Jair Bolsonaro, on June 27, 2023 in Brasilia
The plenary session of Brazil’s Supreme Electoral Court during the second day of the trial of former President Jair Bolsonaro, on June 27, 2023 in Brasilia (Sergio Lima/AFP)

The judges of the Supreme Electoral Court, who voted in favor of the conviction, strongly criticized the behavior of the former president.

His speech sounded like a “delusional narrative with damaging effects on democracy” and was not an isolated act but rather a choice “strategically shaped over time, for electoral purposes,” Justice Andre Ramos Tavares shocked Thursday.

Conversely, for his teammate Raúl Araujo, his behavior “was not justifiable for a severe disqualification”.

I have already raised the question of the leadership of Bolsonaro’s camp. No number required at present as a resort.

In addition, “Bolsonaro has a very strong potential as a + kingmaker + (kingmaker). When he refers to a candidate for the population, he manages to convert votes in an impressive way,” Leonardo Paz, researcher at the Getulio Vargas Foundation, commented to AFP.

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Bolsonarianism is more entrenched than ever. Right-wing and far-right parties are stronger in parliament than they were under Jair Bolsonaro. The latter also lost narrowly, by only 1.8% in the second round against Lula, returning after two spells (2003-2010).

Mr. Bolsonaro has other legal trials ahead of him. In addition to fifteen electoral court hearings, the former leader has been targeted by the Supreme Court in five cases, particularly for his alleged role as an inspiration for the January 8 attacks. He faces imprisonment.

He could in any case count on the support offered by his wife, Michelle, sometimes described as a potential political heiress. A supportive writing reference, she said on Instagram of her confidence and belief in who her “love” and “leader” is.

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