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Target of Bolsonaro attacks to become head of Brazil’s electoral court

#Target #Bolsonaro #attacks #Brazils #electoral #court

Openly berated by President Jair Bolsonaro, Brazilian judge Alexandre de Moraes may need to show the stuff that earned him the nickname “RoboCop” as a referee in polarizing, disinformation-ridden elections to decide the fate of the far-right incumbent.

Currently a Supreme Court justice — a job in which he has been a constant target of Bolsonaro’s attacks — Moraes will on Tuesday take over as head of Brazil’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), the institution responsible for arbitrating the South American giant’s October elections and penalties for violations of voting rights.

It’s usually a pretty boring role. But these are not typical elections.

Bolsonaro, trailing left-wing ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (2003-2010) in the polls, aggressively lashes out at the electronic voting machines Brazil has been using since 1996, claiming – without evidence – that they are plagued by fraud .

He has also indicated he will not leave the presidency without a fight, saying his re-election bid can only have three outcomes: “prison, death or victory.”

That has many Brazilians fearing that if he loses, Bolsonaro will try to fight the election result by following in the footsteps of his political role model, former US President Donald Trump – and Brazil in the footsteps of its own, possibly uglier, version of last year’s attack brings on the Capitol in Washington by Trump supporters.

This context makes Moraes’ new job particularly well known.

“He will have to lead the TSE with an iron fist to prevent the collapse of our entire electoral system,” says political scientist Andre Cesar of the consulting firm Hold.

– Bolsonaro bans –

Instantly recognizable by his glossy bald head and stern demeanor that earned him the nickname “RoboCop”, Moraes, 53, is used to being greeted by Bolsonaro’s diatribes.

One of the most hateful came just under a year ago, when Brazil celebrated 199 years of independence from Portugal on September 7, 2021.

Bolsonaro incited a crowd of hardliners in Sao Paulo and vowed he would no longer obey the decisions issued by Moraes.

“From now on, this president will not carry out a single decision made by Alexandre de Moraes. My patience is at an end,” Bolsonaro said amid cheers and chants for the detention of the Supreme Court justices.

Long hostile to the Supreme Court, which he accuses of blocking his “leftist bias” agenda, Bolsonaro has particularly despised Moraes, making him a poster child for “judicial activism” he says is ruining Brazil.

The judiciary has regularly drawn the President’s wrath.

Moraes ordered Bolsonaro to be investigated for his unsubstantiated claims. Brazil’s electoral system is riddled with fraud; and one of his biggest supporters, Congressman Daniel Silveira – who was then pardoned by Bolsonaro – jailed for attacking democratic institutions.

He ordered social networks to remove some Bolsonaro posts for disinformation; and he is the lead judge on investigations into allegations that Bolsonaro leaked a secret police investigation and meddled in another, into corruption allegations against his sons.

Amid charges of “persecution,” Bolsonaro has sued Moraes for abuse of office and asked the Senate to impeach him.

– Pragmatic ex-prosecutor –

Moraes first rose to national prominence as Minister of Justice under centre-right ex-President Michel Temer (2016-2018), who appointed him to the Supreme Court in 2017.

Ironically, in the face of Bolsonaro’s attacks, colleagues are calling Moraes a pragmatist with a gift for speaking to politicians and the military.

The latter is an institution with which the President has sought close ties.

Moraes started out as Sao Paulo’s prosecutor and then served as secretary of state security. Known as a hardliner, he was not an ally of left-wing activists who accused him of repressing social movements.

Since becoming a top Bolsonaro target, Moraes rarely speaks to journalists and keeps his decisions under wraps until they are made public, a Supreme Court source told AFP.

But he is active on Twitter, posting for example last week in support of massive “defense of democracy” rallies being held across the country.

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#Target #Bolsonaro #attacks #Brazils #electoral #court

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