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Brazilian judge rejects attempt to overturn Lula election victory | Elections News

The head of Brazil’s highest electoral authority rejected the final appeal of the results of the country’s 2022 presidential race, denouncing the efforts of outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro’s allies as “completely ill-intentioned”.

Alexandre de Moraes, a judge and president of Brazil’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal, also issued a fine of R$22.9 million ($4.3 million) against the coalition that filed the complaint, citing “the complete absence of any evidence.”

The decision on Wednesday, November 23, stems from a case filed the day before by the Liberal Party of Brazil challenging the results of the October 30 runoff.

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The complaint, filed on behalf of Bolsonaro, alleged that 280,000 electronic voting machines showed “irreparable operational discrepancies”.

The Liberal Party called for the votes collected by those machines to be thrown out. Marcelo Besa, a lawyer representing the party, estimated that the exclusion of those votes would nullify the victory of the left-wing candidate, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who won by a narrow margin.

In his decision, Moraes denounced the Liberal Party’s complaint as “ostensibly offensive to the democratic rule of law”.

The allegations of inaccurate elections were made “with the aim of encouraging criminal and anti-democratic movements,” Moraes wrote, referring to pro-Bolsonaro protests and blockades that have blocked traffic on hundreds of highways in the country.

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Bolsonaro has not yet publicly conceded the race. Privately, he reportedly told members of Brazil’s Supreme Court, “It’s over.”

After his defeat on October 30, Bolsonaro maintained nearly two days of silence before addressing the audience with a short, two-minute speech from the presidential palace in Brasilia.

In his press conference, Bolsonaro did not mention neither Lula nor the election results, instead thanking his supporters and asserting that he would “comply” with the Brazilian constitution.

“I have always been branded an anti-democratic, and unlike my accuser, I have always played within the four lines of the constitution,” he said.

However, Bolsonaro’s critics have pointed to his repeated attempts to cast doubt on the Brazilian election process, even before the October election, and have raised concerns that he may use the allegations to contest the defeat.

During his election campaign, Bolsonaro, a former army captain, ordered a military audit of the country’s voting machines, claiming without evidence that they were prone to fraud. If electronic ballots are impregnable, why are they? [the electoral court] Worried?” Bolsonaro asked in a live broadcast on social media in May.

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His opponent, Lula, who served as Brazil’s president from 2003 to 2010, recently denounced Bolsonaro’s attempts to involve the military in election procedures.

“The president, who is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, has no right to involve them in setting up a commission to investigate electronic voting machines,” Lula said in a speech to allied lawmakers on November 10.

Lula won 50.9 percent of the vote to Bolsonaro’s 49.1 percent in the October runoff, the closest a presidential race in Brazil since the country returned to democracy in 1985 after 21 years of military rule.

Although Brazil’s election authority confirmed Lula’s victory, protests emerged in the wake of Bolsonaro’s loss, with truckers and other Bolsonaro supporters calling for military intervention.

“We are with you,” protesters chanted in support of Bolsonaro as they blocked the highway to Sao Paulo International Airport, causing flights to be cancelled. “We do not accept the thief as a leader.”

The 33-page complaint on Tuesday was the latest attempt to contest the election, which was Bolsonaro’s first loss in his 34-year political career. The complaint alleged that a software bug in the majority of Brazil’s devices left votes vulnerable to fraud.

Brazil’s election authority has given Bolsonaro’s liberal party 24 hours to provide evidence that the vote count was inaccurate. In his ruling, Moraes said nothing was filed. He described the complaint as a “totally misrepresented version of the facts”.

Moraes also ordered the suspension of government funds for the Liberal Party coalition until a $4.3 million fine was paid.

De Moraes’ message to the political establishment is that the game is up. Questioning the outcome of the election is not fair, and people and institutions who do so will be harshly punished, Mauricio Santoro, a professor of political science at Rio de Janeiro State University, told the Associated Press.

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