Bolsonaro: rise and fall of the far-right leader | Profile

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Former President Jair Bolsonaro suffered this Friday the biggest setback of his long political career: his eight-year disqualification for systematically attacking the foundations of Brazilian democracy with "atrocious lies", according to the electoral Justice.

The Superior Electoral Tribunal (TSE) determined, by 5 votes in favor and 2 against, to condemn the leader of the Brazilian extreme right for abuse of political power in the 2022 elections, in which he unsuccessfully tried to stay in power and won Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and strip him of his political rights until 2030.

The 68-year-old retired Army captain may only run for elective office or hold positions in the public administration when he is 75.

His desire to be a candidate in the 2026 presidential elections, as he stated during the trial, has vanished for the moment, as there is still an appeal to reverse the sentence.


Evangelicals, the military, defenders of arms and extreme economic liberalism have remained united with Bolsonaro under his motto: "God, country, family and freedom."

A motto traced to that used by the "green shirts", fascists who tried to emulate the doctrines of Benito Mussolini in Brazil in the 1930s.

Bolsonaro found inspiration in his "friend" Donald Trump and ideologically connects with other ultra-conservative leaders, such as the Italian Giorgia Meloni, the Hungarian Viktor Orbán, the Chilean José Antonio Kast or the Spanish Santiago Abascal.

The visceral hatred of "communism", the rejection of "gender ideology", the lack of commitment to the environment, the denial of the covid-19 pandemic and his unfounded suspicions against the electoral system filled his mandate with controversy (2019-2022).


Nostalgic for the dictatorship (1964-1985), the far-right leader applauds and smiles at his followers when they cheer him on to close Parliament and the Supreme Court, demonstrations that he protects under freedom of expression.

His silence after the elections, without openly acknowledging defeat and without appeasing his followers who remained outside the barracks calling for military intervention to overthrow Lula, was followed by the anti-democratic acts of January 8.

That day, a week after Lula assumed power, thousands of radical Bolsonaros stormed and looted the headquarters of the three powers in Brasilia, while Bolsonaro was in the United States, where he traveled two days before leaving the Presidency.

His outbursts and foul language, which he attributes to his direct and spontaneous style, were his style in the Presidency and caused repeated altercations with the press.

In an electoral propaganda, he said he was sorry for the controversial expressions he used during the pandemic, when he laughingly imitated a person suffocating.


Descendant of Italian immigrants, Jair Messias Bolsonaro was born on March 21, 1955 into a humble family in the interior of Sao Paulo, a key period to understand his anti-communism.

They were times of dictatorship and the confrontations between guerrillas and the military that took place in that region would mark him forever.

That was the seed that led him to enlist in the Agulhas Negras Military School, in Rio de Janeiro. He was formed in 1977. He joined the paratrooper brigade and was promoted to captain.

In 1986, with democracy already back, he wrote an explosive article in the press in which he demanded better salaries for the category, almost calling for insubordination. Shortly after he would leave the barracks to start his political career.

He was a councilor for Rio de Janeiro and for almost three decades a federal deputy.

In 2018 he appeared in person and won them in the second round after a campaign marred by the knife he received from a mentally ill person.

In 2022 he lost re-election to his greatest political adversary, the progressive Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Today he is disabled after stretching Brazilian democracy to the extreme.


Jair Bolsonaro became this Friday the third former Brazilian president who is disqualified from disputing elective positions or holding public office, after being convicted in the electoral Court for abuses of power in the 2022 elections.

With that decision and failing to exhaust all resources, the 68-year-old far-right leader will not be able to contest any election for the next eight years.

The Superior Electoral Court, by 5 votes in favor and 2 votes against, condemned him for using his position as head of state (2019-2022) "to degrade the electoral environment" and create a state of "collective paranoia" with " false information” and “egregious lies”.

Bolsonaro thus joins two other former Brazilian heads of state who were also stripped at some point of their political rights since the restoration of democracy in 1985.

The current president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, was also declared ineligible, but for a different reason.

In 2018, the progressive leader was sentenced in the second instance to 12 years and 1 month in prison for a corruption case.

That sentence framed him in the so-called “Clean File Law”, which prevents those convicted in second instance from running for elective positions.

The Workers' Party (PT) tried to nominate him as a presidential candidate in the 2018 elections, which Bolsonaro would win, but the electoral Justice rejected his registration after being convicted in an appeal court.

However, in 2021, the Supreme Court annulled that and another corruption conviction against Lula, a ruling that allowed him to recover his political rights and run for the 2022 presidential elections, which he would win against Bolsonaro by a narrow margin.

The other disqualified former president was Fernando Collor (1990-1992), who during his tenure was accused of participating in a corrupt scheme, which triggered Congress to launch an impeachment trial against him.

In a context of serious economic crisis, Collor resigned in order to avoid being removed by Congress and maintain his political rights, but despite leaving the Presidency, the Senate approved his disqualification for eight years.

In 2006, he stood in the Senate elections and won a seat for the state of Alagoas.

Last May, the Supreme Court sentenced him to eight years and ten months in prison for corruption and money laundering, for receiving bribes between 2010 and 2014, while serving as a senator.

Collor awaits the resolution of the appeals presented by his defense. EFE

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