Brazil’s electoral court rejects the Bolsonaro election challenge

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BRASILIA, Nov 23 (Reuters) – The head of Brazil’s electoral court Alexandre de Moraes on Wednesday rejected a complaint by allies of President Jair Bolsonaro to challenge the presidential election, which the incumbent lost by a narrow margin, according to a court document.

Leftist ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva narrowly defeated Bolsonaro in the Oct. 30 election, marking a stunning comeback for the left-wing former president and the end of Brazil’s most right-wing government in decades.

Lula’s margin of victory was less than two percentage points.

Moraes, who serves as a Supreme Court judge, also fined the parties in Bolsonaro’s coalition 22.9 million.

On Tuesday, Bolsonaro’s liberal party (PL) filed another complaint challenge the election result claimed that some of the electronic voting machines were faulty and that those votes should be invalidated, an argument that election officials met with skepticism.

Under Wednesday’s electoral court ruling, political funds for the president’s coalition parties were ordered blocked until the fine is paid. The decision also ordered an investigation into any abuse of the party’s structure and funds by PL chief Valdemar da Costa Neto.

In the ruling, Moraes described the challenge as “offensive” to democratic norms, adding that it sought to encourage criminal and anti-democratic movements.

“The ballot boxes generate files that make it possible to identify exactly which equipment they were generated on. When one of these mechanisms stops working, others replace it without affecting its traceability and the ability to identify ballot boxes, ” reads the decision.

Election experts and political analysts blasted the election challenge from Bolsonaro’s allies as weak on the merits, though it could still fire up supporters who have protested his defeat at the polls.

($1 = 5.3591 reais)

Reporting by Ricardo Brito; Author: Peter Frontini; Editing by David Alire Garcia and Sandra Maler

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