A majority of judges on Brazil’s top electoral court voted to declare Jair Bolsonaro ineligible to seek or hold public office for a second time on Tuesday, ruling that the former right-wing president abused his power during last year’s independence day celebrations.
Five of the court’s seven judges have voted in favor of barring Bolsonaro, bringing the trial to an end. The decision won’t add to the eight-year ban Bolsonaro received in June, when the same court ruled that he had broken election laws by spreading false claims about the country’s electronic voting system during a meeting with foreign ambassadors.
But it will put another hurdle between him and a potential political comeback. Even if an appeal of the first ruling succeeds, a second ban would remain in effect.
In this trial, the court weighed allegations that on Sept. 7, 2022 — just a month before the presidential election — Bolsonaro purposefully used official independence celebrations to campaign, constituting an abuse of his political and economic power.
The court’s judges earlier in October voted to acquit Bolsonaro in another trial that analyzed three separate cases involving allegations that he abused the power of his office by campaigning from Brazil’s presidential palaces last year, when he narrowly lost his reelection bid to leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
A committee probing post-election riots in Brasilia, however, also this month recommended that Bolsonaro face criminal charges for plotting a coup d’etat in response to his electoral defeat.
The committee’s report resulted from a months-long investigation into the Jan. 8 insurrection attempt launched by Bolsonaro supporters who stormed major government buildings in an attempt to undermine Lula’s victory.
The report only recommend charges to Brazilian authorities, who will decide whether to pursue indictments.
The electoral court is still considering numerous other allegations against Bolsonaro, who spread conspiracies about voter fraud and the election system throughout last year’s contest. The 68-year-old former Army captain is also facing mounting legal troubles from various investigations that have raised the prospect of his arrest.
Bolsonaro has denied wrongdoing on all fronts.