Alexandre de Moraes, an intractable judge on the heels of Jair Bolsonaro

“Boy, you’re going to the demon’s house!” » On this afternoon at the end of March, the storm is brewing above Brasilia and this VTC driver is shivering. However, the ordered race does not lead to the gates of hell, but to an administrative building, known by its acronym, “TSE”, for Superior Electoral Court. This is where its president sits, Judge Alexandre de Moraes, considered today by many to be the most powerful man in Brazil.

“He’s a dictator!” », roared the driver, sympathizer of former President Jair Bolsonaro, by dropping us off. In fact, the “Demon’s House” has everything to intimidate. The TSE, a gigantic concrete building with black windows, adorned with three domes, designed by Oscar Niemeyer, looks like a wave ready to break over the visitor. At the head of an army of 22,000 civil servants, responsible for organizing and certifying the Brazilian elections, Alexandre de Moraes oversees the destiny of the fifth largest democracy in the world. Its offices overlook the capital, Lake Paranoa, the glowing savannahs of the Cerrado. And, symbolically, all the other powers.

” He accepted ! » A few days earlier, the press service of the TSE could not believe it. Alexandre de Moraes, 54 years old, “does not give an interview”, we were told, despite piles of requests ” of the whole world “. Neither to the Brazilian media nor to the foreign press. Neither in his function as president of the TSE nor as a judge (or minister) in the Federal Supreme Court, the highest court in the country, where he also sits. The meeting with M The magazine of the World East described as unprecedented ».

Alexandre de Moraes, in his office in Brasilia, March 21, 2023. The target of death threats, he has fitted out his office – whose antique furniture dates from the empire of Brazil (1822-1889) – so as never to be surprised by a possible aggressor.

Hated by the far right, Alexandre de Moraes is considered the one who saved Brazil from the authoritarian excesses of Jair Bolsonaro. For four years, he will have been for many the face of the defense of democracy. And what a face! Full lips, dark eyes, square jaw. But, above all, a skull. Smooth, immaculate, where, like a cinema screen, everyone can project their fears and fantasies. In films, the bald person often embodies the brute, the despot, the vampire. And, sometimes, the valiant hero, the saviour, the monk of Shaolin. Is Alexandre de Moraes an angel or a demon » ? Rather Lex Luthor or Bruce Willis? In Brazil, the debate is not settled.

From his vast office with grass-colored carpet, dotted with vermeil carpets and furniture dating from the beginning of the 19the and the Brazilian Empire, the president of the TSE is affable and courteous. The handshake is warm, the smile engaging. In his voice, shrouded in the rolling accent of the elites of São Paulo, pierces no arrogance. Here at the TSE, everyone calls him Minister Alexander » : such a Brazilian mixture of distance and familiarity, where one designates oneself by both the title and the first name. But Moraes reframes us from the outset: no question of answering intimate questions. A judge can express himself accurately only by his declarations on concrete cases. », he insists, anxious not to expose » his family, subject to many threats “. But he wants to talk about the political situation, and only about it: It seems important to me, especially for the foreign public, to understand the importance of the 2022 election in the reaffirmation of democracy » And to show that Brazilian institutions are strong “.

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