Brazil election court throws out Bolsonaro challenge, fines party

Brazil election court throws out Bolsonaro challenge, fines party

Pro-Bolsonaro protesters call on the military to intervene to keep him in office, alleging fraud in the far-right leader's election defeat at a demonstration in Rio de Janeiro on November 2
Pro-Bolsonaro protesters call on the military to intervene to keep him in office, alleging fraud in the far-right leader's election defeat at a demonstration in Rio de Janeiro on November 2. Photo: Miguel SCHINCARIOL / AFP
Source: AFP

Brazil's top electoral authority on Wednesday threw out a challenge by President Jair Bolsonaro's party against his election defeat and fined it more than $4 million for bringing the case "in bad faith."

The head of the Superior Electoral Tribunal (TSE), judge Alexandre de Moraes, ruled the far-right president's Liberal Party had presented "absolutely false" arguments in its case, which he said was aimed at "encouraging criminal and anti-democratic movements" by Bolsonaro supporters seeking to fight the election result.

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Party lawyer Marcelo Bessa said excluding those votes would change the election result, from a 1.8-percentage-point win for Lula to a 2.1-percentage-point win for Bolsonaro.

Moraes responded with a withering rejection, accusing the PL of seeking to fuel ongoing protests by Bolsonaro supporters who have blocked highways and rallied outside army barracks calling for a military intervention to keep the incumbent in power.

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"There is a total lack of supporting evidence" in the PL's claim, Moraes said in a statement.

The case "is blatantly offensive to the democratic rule of law, and was brought recklessly, for the purpose of encouraging criminal and anti-democratic movements... responsible for grave threats and violence," he added.

He fined the PL's coalition 22.9 million reais ($4.2 million), and ordered an investigation of party leader Valdemar da Costa Neto and the head of the firm behind the audit, the Legal Vote Institute.

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Bolsonaro, who has regularly alleged Brazil's voting system is plagued by fraud -- without providing evidence -- was initially silent for nearly 48 hours after his defeat.

He then made a terse statement saying he would respect the constitution, but has not explicitly conceded defeat or congratulated Lula, who is due to be sworn in on January 1.

Source: AFP

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