The double punishment of former president Jair Bolsonaro (PL) for ineligibility will probably not stop the current punitive rage of the Electoral Court, which could now turn against the right-wing linked to the former president. Lawyers, prosecutors and analysts who follow the processes in the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) and in other instances observe that the convictions already suffered by the former president, and others that may still occur, form precedents that also threaten his mandate and political future. of allied parliamentarians and activists who support him.
A sign of this emerged in the trial, in October, in which Bolsonaro was convicted of holding rallies after the celebrations of the Bicentenary of Independence, on September 7th of last year. Initially, the rapporteur, Benedito Gonçalves, had proposed punishing only the former president. In the session, Minister Floriano de Azevedo Marques, a lawyer who had just joined the TSE under the influence of Alexandre de Moraes, defended extending the punishment to General Walter Braga Netto, who was a candidate for vice-president and was tipped to run for mayor of the Rio de Janeiro in 2024. The suggestion was accepted by Benedito Gonçalves and three other ministers, resulting in a new conviction.
The most threatening action for Bolsonaro’s allies comes from the PT, which accuses a group of 46 people – which includes politicians, activists, influencers and even conservative journalists – of promoting an “ecosystem of disinformation” in last year’s elections. The targets of the action, along with Bolsonaro and Braga Netto, are the three sons and natural political heirs of the former president: senator Flávio Bolsonaro, federal deputy Eduardo Bolsonaro and councilor Carlos Bolsonaro.
Major PL vote-pullers are also accused: federal deputy Nikolas Ferreira (MG), the most voted in the country in 2022; deputies Carla Zambelli (SP) and Bia Kicis (DF); in addition to Ricardo Salles (SP), Luis Philippe de Orleans and Bragança (SP), Mario Frias (SP), Alexandre Ramagem (RJ), Gustavo Gayer (GO) and Caroline de Toni (SC). Among activists and supporters who could run for office in the future are Otavio Fakhouri and Andre Porciúncula. Influencers such as Barbara Destefani, Kim Paim, Leandro Ruschel, Bernardo Kuster are also in the spotlight.
Another PT action, related to the rallies held on the 7th of September last year, also wants to condemn to ineligibility the senator and former vice president Hamilton Mourão (Republicanos-RS), the former Minister of Communications and former deputy Fábio Faria, businessman Luciano Hang, rural producer Antônio Galvan, who is also the president of the Brazilian Association of Soy Producers (Aprosoja), and pastor Silas Malafaia.
As there are dozens of defendants, it is natural that these two processes are long, because everyone can contest the accusations, prove that they are innocent and call witnesses to defend them. The longer processing time works in their favor, due to some factors. The first is that the current rapporteur, Benedito Gonçalves, from Alexandre de Moraes’ group, is leaving the TSE.
Minister Raul Araújo will take his place as inspector and rapporteur of the actions. Despite having voted against Bolsonaro’s ineligibility, he would not have sufficient strength or condition, in the current composition of the Court, to reverse the punishment. However, if he understands that Bolsonaro’s allies are innocent in some of the PT’s actions that seek to condemn them, he will be able to prevent them from becoming ineligible by moving forward with the trial of these cases.
New composition of the TSE
In June 2024, Alexandre de Moraes, Bolsonaro’s biggest executioner in the Judiciary, will end his term at the TSE and, in his place, André Mendonça, appointed by the former president to the Federal Supreme Court (STF), will take over. At this moment, another person appointed by him, Kassio Nunes Marques, will preside over the court. If the two and Raul Araújo come together to acquit Bolsonaro’s allies, one more vote will be enough for a favorable result. Expectations will be on Isabel Gallotti, minister of the Superior Court of Justice (STJ) and considered conservative in the legal world – in the 2022 campaign, he made some decisions favorable to the former president in the TSE.
As time passes, the expectation among Bolsonaro’s allies is that the climate of persecution on the right will ease, especially if the prospect of a worsening assessment of the current government and the popularity of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is confirmed ( PT) throughout the mandate. A political scenario like this, if it materializes, is considered crucial to stop the intense judicial bombardment on the former president currently taking place.
Another bet by the former president to save himself politically and help his allies is to continue traveling around the country to maintain contact with governors and mayors who support him, gather crowds of voters in public places and publicize these events on social media. All this to show that the right-wing linked to its name remains alive and popular in the electoral arena, which could grow in the municipal elections of 2024 and in the national dispute of 2026. The idea is to feed the discourse that removing the conservative camp from the dispute for The judicial route would indeed be an “anti-democratic” act on the part of the Electoral Court.
At this initial moment, the strategy has not been effective. Since last year, the TSE and the regional electoral courts have tightened their grip on the right-wing allied with the former president. The cases against Bolsonaro himself at the TSE were processed in record time, being judged in June and October – in general, cases of this type last two or three years until trial.
Before Bolsonaro, the TSE revoked the mandate of federal deputy of Deltan Dallagnol (Novo, ex-Podemos – PR), who had been bothering the political world and the Judiciary leadership for many years with his criticism of the STF’s move to free Lula and others Lava Jato targets of convictions and investigations. In May, the TSE declared him ineligible for having left the Federal Public Ministry to run for office. He was accused of trying to escape punishment that could occur for his role in combating corruption. At the time he left, however, there were still no disciplinary proceedings opened against him.
Today a senator, former Lava Jato judge Sergio Moro (União Brasil – PR) is also at risk of losing his mandate for a similar reason: the anger of the political world and the judicial elite for the years in which he condemned hundreds of politicians, lobbyists, money changers and businessmen for corruption. The formal pretext for impeaching him is an accusation of alleged irregularities in the expenses of his pre-campaign for the Presidency. During his campaign for senator, he had his bills approved.
Another recent target of right-wing judicial persecution is Senator Jorge Seif (PL-SC), former Secretary of Fisheries and Aquaculture in the Bolsonaro government and friend of the former president. His opponents accused him of abusing economic power due to the alleged support of businesspeople for his campaign. Unanimously, the Santa Catarina TRE rejected the revocation, but there will be an appeal to try to remove his mandate from the TSE.