BRASILIA, Jun 29 (Reuters) – Three of the required four federal electoral court justices ruled on Thursday that former President Jair Bolsonaro had abused his power during last year’s contentious election, putting him on the verge of losing his political future.
The remaining justices will decide the case on Friday and adjourn it.
If a majority of the seven judges in the Brasilia court find that Bolsonaro abused his authority by summoning ambassadors to make unfounded claims about Brazil’s voting system before the vote last year, he could be barred from public office until 2030.
One judge has not yet decided whether or not to convict the far-right nationalist for using the media and abusing political power.
Bolsonaro, an ex-armed force chief, barely lost last October’s political decision to liberal adversary Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
He stands blamed for having made a cross-country development to upset the political race result that finished in the Jan 8 attack on government structures in Brasilia by a large number of his allies. He denies doing anything wrong.
Bolsonaro received global criticism for his lacklustre stewardship of the Amazon rainforest, his laissez-faire approach to COVID-19 restrictions, and his evidence-free attacks on Brazil’s electoral system after being elected in 2018 amid a wave of right-wing leaders that included his political idol, former U.S. President Donald Trump.
The TSE trial is part of a more extensive process in Brazil to deal with the effects of the country’s most challenging election in a generation.
While the previous president faces discretionary court examination, a significant number of his one-time partners are being addressed by legislators in a legislative test into the Jan 8 mobs.
On Thursday, Bolsonaro flew to Rio de Janeiro, where he was met at the airport with shouts of “coup-monger” and “criminal.” He claimed that the TSE trial was a political witch hunt meant to allow Brazil’s left to win the 2026 election, in which he still hoped to run without opposition.
Nonetheless, many Brazilians, including Bolsonaro, believe he will be removed from office, a remarkable turn of events for a figure who was Brazil’s most powerful man until recently.
“Everybody appears to say that it’s probably I will be banned from office,” he told the Folha de S Paulo paper in a meeting. ” I won’t give up. What should I do?
In the TSE case, Bolsonaro does not face jail time. Nevertheless, the 68-year-old is still the subject of numerous criminal investigations that could result in his imprisonment.
His former allies have abandoned him and placed their hopes in new right-wing politicians like Minas Gerais Governor Romeu Zema and Sao Paulo Governor Tarcisio Freitas.
Bolsonaro’s family, including his wife and lawmaker sons, may be his best chance of staying relevant. They may also have presidential aspirations of their own. He told the Folha de S. Paulo that his significant other Michelle could be an official up-and-comer in 2026, yet said she needed political experience.