Head of electoral court calls Bolsonaro a “phony”

electoral Justice Luís Roberto Barroso. Photo: Ubirajara Machado/Ag. CNJ
Justice Luís Roberto Barroso. Photo: Ubirajara Machado/Ag. CNJ

Supreme Court Justice Luís Roberto Barroso, who presides over Brazil’s Superior Electoral Court, called President Jair Bolsonaro a “phony” this morning, comparing him to authoritarian leaders in Venezuela, Turkey, and El Salvador.

The speech came as a response to Brazil’s far-right president’s attacks on the Judiciary during anti-democratic protests on September 7. Mr. Bolsonaro called Justice Alexandre de Moraes a “scumbag” and said the electoral system is a “farce” organized by Justice Barroso. 

“In cases [such as Venezuela, Turkey, and El Salvador], the erosion of democracy wasn’t the result of a coup […] but by presidents and prime ministers elected by the people,” said the Supreme Court justice.

In the aftermath of protests in Brasília and São Paulo, the Judiciary gave firm responses. Supreme Court Chief Justice Luiz Fux said yesterday the president committed an impeachable offense by inciting insurrection against the democratic order, and called him a “false prophet.”

In Congress, however, responses were mild — if not to say cowardly. House Speaker Arthur Lira said the September 7 protests were a sign of “healthy democracies,” ignoring protestors’ calls for a coup d’état. Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco, in turn, gave a vague speech asking for harmony between the branches of government — without naming names or making any assertions.