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Electoral court slaps fine on Lula for breaking electoral rules

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Former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the presidential frontrunner, was fined BRL 10,000 (USD 1,930) by the Superior Electoral Court on Tuesday for soliciting votes ahead of the permitted time frame for doing so.

Electoral legislation in Brazil bans would-be candidates from explicitly canvassing for votes before the launch of the official campaign period, which this year started on August 16.

The infraction took place during a speech that Lula gave in the Northeastern state of Piauí on August 3. “I would like to ask you, every man and woman in Piauí, who are willing to vote for me, who are willing to vote for Wellington [Dias, a Senate candidate]I would like to ask you, on October 2, vote for me,” said Lula.

Last month, the electoral court had already banned the Lula campaign from using videos of the speech as part of its campaign advertising material.

The fine is negligible compared to the Workers’ Party’s campaign kitty. The party has so far raised more than BRL 86 million (USD 16 million) for Lula’s election campaign — four times more than President Jair Bolsonaro’s party.

Brazil’s electoral rules are flawed, as the low value of the fines and the delay in taking cases to court means that the country’s largest (and richest) parties often bet that it pays off electorally to flout the rules, even if they receive a small fine down the line.

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