Abortion, gay marriage and elections: inside the mind of Joaquim Barbosa, Brazil’s most qualified option for President this year

Joaquim Barbosa, chief justice and president candidate.

For the first time in 100 years in Brazil, a Federal Supreme Court (STF) minister is expected to run for the presidency of Brazil in this year’s elections. The former president of the Brazilian Judicial Court, Joaquim Barbosa, 63, is practically right-handed at the polls in 2018. He joined the PSB party on April 6th before the deadline for those who intend to run for elective office.

The last – and only – time it happened was in 1919, when the former STF minister and then Senator Epitacio Pessoa disputed and won the lawsuit. The election was held in extraordinary form, after the death of the president-elect the previous year, Rodrigues Alves.

Pessoa joined the STF between 1902 and 1912. Until 1905, he accumulated the position with the attorney of the Republic, according to his biography available in the National Collection. After leaving the Supreme on health grounds, he was elected to represent Paraíba, his home state, in the Senate. He left the Presidency of the Republic in 1922.

Epitácio Pessoa joined the STF from 1902 to 1912 and presided over the country between 1919 and 1922.
Epitácio Pessoa joined the STF from 1902 to 1912 and presided over the country between 1919 and 1922.

Barbosa retired from the Supreme Court in July 2014, just over 11 years after taking office. The former minister never disputed a public office. Prior to joining the STF, which he presided between 2012 and 2014, he was attorney of the Republic in the MPF (Federal Public Ministry) from 1984 to 2003.

The experience of the possible presidential in the STF was highlighted by the PSB president, Carlos Siqueira, when celebrating the affiliation.

“He left his personal mark of steadfastness and independence, and by putting forward in discussion in the Court progressive guidelines contributed to a significant civilizational advancement of Brazilian society,” Siqueira said.

Barbosa left public life spontaneously, but he continued to “closely follow the evolution of the country’s economic, political and social life.

Admitting for the first time in public the possibility of applying for the Planalto Palace (presidency), the magistrate said that “taking this step” has been a personal dilemma for him, “especially in this troubled moment of national life.”

Follow Joaquim Barbosa, at his personal Twitter account.

As for the fact that a minister of the Supreme tries to become chief of the Executive, he emphasizes that the Judiciary is the protagonist of the current crisis. “The Judiciary is the main hero in history, who is going against corruption, who is cleaning up politics, who is doing something that nobody did before,” he says.

The PSB announced the affiliation of Joaquim Barbosa, former president of the Federal Supreme Court (STF) and there is an expectation that the former minister is the candidate of the party to the Presidency of the Republic, but this possibility is still being studied by Barbosa and PSB.

In a statement posted on his Facebook page, the former president admitted that he still does not know what his position will be in the October election, but said he has joined in order not to miss the deadline if he wants to run for president. The Electoral Justice requires that candidates have at least six months of party membership. The parties have until August 15 to submit the application for registration of candidates.

“Joaquim Barbosa is an honorable public man with an admirable trajectory, who reinforces and qualifies the cadres of the party. It is a pleasure to have the former minister in the PSB at this very challenging moment in our country,” said Siqueira, who recalled the performance of Barbosa in the STF. “He left his personal mark of firmness and independence, and by bringing forward progressive arguments in the court contributed to a significant civilizational advance in Brazilian society,” he added.

Born in Paracatu (MG) and humble in origin, Joaquim Barbosa arrived in the 1970s in Brasília, where he studied Law at the University of Brasília. During his public career, he worked for almost two decades as prosecutor of the Federal Public Ministry.

In the latest Datafolha poll for the presidential election, released on January 31, Barbosa appeared with 3% to 5% of the voting intentions, in different scenarios with diverse candidates.

What the former minister thinks about a few interesting topics?


1) In May 2017, for example, Joaquim Barbosa stated in a social network that Brazilians should “forcefully demand” the immediate resignation of Michel Temer (Brazil’s current president).

That day, the STF had overturned the confidentiality of the holdings of holding company J & F, the controlling group of JBS. In them, the director of Institutional Relations of the company, Ricardo Saud, said that Temer received about R$ 15 million in payments of undue advantages in the 2014 election campaign. Saud delivered documents and spreadsheets with data on transfers from the group companies to Michel Temer. In one of the notes, transactions related to the current president of Brazil in the total amount of R$ 30 million are listed.

2) In the presidency of the CNJ (National Council of Justice), Barbosa was in favor of equality in the treatment of sexual orientation in proposing and defending the resolution that forced notices to celebrate civil marriages between people of the same sex.

The decision was made on May 14, 2013.

3) In April 2012, the then minister was one of those who voted in the STF in favor of the interruption of pregnancy in cases of fetus with anencephaly – when there is absence of most of the brain and the skull cap. From the decision, pregnant women with this diagnosis they could stop the gestation without requesting authorization from the Justice.

4) In February 2012, Barbosa voted in favor of the Clean Tab Act, which determines that no one who has been convicted of any crime in the lower court can participate in an election, even with the possibility of being acquitted afterwards.

With the decision of the STF, the rule came to valid already in the elections of that same year.

5) Embryonic stem cell research also passed through the minister’s screening in the STF. In May 2008, he voted for continued research in Brazil, which had been questioned by the Attorney General’s Office.

The ban, said the then minister, “means turning a blind eye to scientific development and the benefits that can come from it.”

6) In September 2014, Barbosa also criticized the possibility of politicians holding positions in the Executive Branch (president, governor, mayor) to re-elect in their first lecture after leaving the STF in São Paulo. “The mother of all corruption,” he said.

7) In August 2016, it classified as “pathetic spectacle” the approval in the Senate of the impeachment “tabajara” of President Dilma Rousseff (PT).

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Joe Cloud
Dutch, American, Brazilian... lived there for 5 years and owns property in Brazil. Out of the country for a few years now and would like to go back, however current circumstances tell me it's not the right time.