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Bolsonaro sues Supreme Court justice for alleged 'attacks on democracy' 

Brazil's conservative president cited alleged “attacks on democracy, disrespect for the constitution and contempt for fundamental rights and guarantees"

May 18, 2022 2:10pm

Updated: May 18, 2022 2:10pm

Brazil’s conservative President Jair Bolsonaro announced on Tuesday that he was suing a Supreme Court justice for abuse of authority, citing alleged “attacks on democracy, disrespect for the constitution and contempt for fundamental rights and guarantees.”

According to Ricardo Barros – the head of Bolsonaro’s party in Brazil’s lower house – the president announced the move against Justice Alexandre de Moraes through a text to his supporters, Reuters reported.

The move, however, is only the latest escalation in an ongoing feud between Bolsonaro and Moraes, who has often attacked the president and his policies in the Court – often ruling against new legislation and launching investigations into Bolsonaro for “spreading fake news over COVID-19.”

Last January, Bolsonaro blasted Moraes and his colleague Justice Luis Roberto Barroso for allegedly taking sides in this year’s presidential election and favoring socialist front-runner Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

"Barroso and Alexandre de Moraes want Lula to be president," he said in a television interview. "OK, they might not want to vote for me, but do they want to return to office the man who robbed the nation for eight years?"

Lula was president of Brazil from 2003-2010 but later spent nearly two years in prison on corruption charges that were annulled – under questionable circumstances – by the country’s highest Court just last year, opening the door for his latest presidential bid.

Just days after officially launching his presidential campaign, where he urged Brazilians to unite against the “incompetence and authoritarianism” in Brasilia, Lula da Silva appears to hold a comfortable lead over his conservative opponent, with some polls showing the socialist leader holding a 14-percentage-point lead over Bolsonaro.

A new poll by pollster MDA has shown, however, that Bolsonaro has gained ground and approval of his government has risen to about 30% -- up more than four percentage points, Reuters reported.

But these numbers are not new or especially surprising.

Support for Bolsonaro has grown in recent surveys as his administration continues to boost social spending and hold mass rallies in towns and cities across the country.

According to recent simulations, first round voters would give Lula 40.6% of the vote while Bolsonaro would receive 32%. A February CNT/MDA survey, however, showed Lula up by 42.2% compared to Bolsonaro’s 28%.

If a second-round run-off were held today, Lula would win by 50.8% of votes compared to 36.8% -- a difference of nearly 18 percentage points from February when Lula led Bolsonaro 53.2% to 35.3%.

"The poll indicates an improvement for Bolsonaro, with increases both in the positive evaluation of his government and of his personal performance as president," MDA said.

Lula da Silva launched his presidential bid on Saturday, vowing to fix the issues caused by what he called the "irresponsible and criminal" administration of incumbent Jair Bolsonaro. For many, the comeback seemed implausible after the 76-year-old leftist leader faced a prison sentence on corruption charges, The Guardian reported.

"We're ready to work not only to win the election on October 2, but to rebuild and transform Brazil, which will be even more difficult," the socialist leader told a rally in Sao Paulo.

"We need to change Brazil once again... We need to return to a place where no one ever dares to defy democracy again. We need to send fascism back to the sewer of history, where it should have been all along," he added.

Bolsonaro, for his part, launched his re-election campaign last month and has stated that he will focus on corruption under Lula. He also dismissed the polls as inaccurate.

"I don't believe in polls, but the guy who practically destroyed Brazil is ahead," he said in a radio interview. "Either the surveys are fraudulent or people are not well informed."