Brazilian presidential candidate Lula abandons race – party source

Ex-president Lula da Silva drops prison-cell campaign to reclaim leadership

Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (PT) pictured in São Paulo, Brazil on July 20th, 2017. Photo by Fabio Vieira/FotoRua/NurPhoto via Getty

Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (PT) pictured in São Paulo, Brazil on July 20th, 2017. Photo by Fabio Vieira/FotoRua/NurPhoto via Getty


Brazil’s jailed former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has abandoned the long-running prison-cell campaign he has been waging to reclaim his country’s leadership, a source from his leftist Workers’ Party said.

Lula, who ruled for two terms, until 2011, and was one of the most popular leaders in modern Brazilian history, had shown a convincing lead in polls and was insisting on his candidacy even after an electoral court barred it on September 1st.

But in a widely anticipated move, he will now be replaced by Fernando Haddad, a former philosophy lecturer and São Paulo mayor, who had been his vice-presidential candidate.

Lula’s leftist Workers’ party (PT) is set to announce the change on Tuesday afternoon in front of the Federal Police headquarters in the southern city of Curitiba where Lula is serving a 12-year sentence for corruption and money laundering, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“My voice is the voice of Fernando Haddad and all the comrades in this fearless journey to rescue national dignity,” Lula said in a letter read out by actor Sérgio Mamberti during an event in São Paulo on Monday night.

In an official video posted on social media by senior PT figures on Tuesday, Haddad said: “I’ve spoken to Lula and he’s furious at so much injustice … Lula was the best president Brazil ever had – we know he would win this election. But unfortunately they insist on taking him out . . . [against] the will of the people.”

“Lula has asked: ‘Let’s stay together, united! Whatever happens, let’s all vote [for the PT],” Haddad concluded.

The Workers’ Party now has less than a month to transfer Lula’s support to Haddad – who doubled his support for the first round vote on 7 October in a poll from the Datafolha polling institute published on Monday.

Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right former army captain, leads polling but has not significantly increased his support since being stabbed while campaigning last week. Polls suggest he would lose to nearly all other candidates in a second-round vote.

Ciro Gomes, another leftist candidate, has also increased his support.

José Álvaro Moisés, a professor of political science at the University of São Paulo, said Haddad will also gain from Lula’s rising popularity and the economic problems and graft scandals faced by the government

Michel Temer formed after Lula’s successor Dilma Rousseff was impeached for breaking budget rules in 2016.

“He has big potential,” Moisés said. “The Temer government has been a disaster.”

Brazil’s top electoral court ruled to bar Lula’s candidacy in the early hours of 1 September under a “clean slate” law that prohibits politicians convicted of serious crimes from standing for election. The party appealed the decision but the electoral court referred the decision to Brazil’s Supreme Court, which is yet to rule.

In barring his candidacy, Brazil ignored a recommendation from the United Nations Human Rights committee that he be allowed to stand, pending a full consideration of his case next year. In a letter to Lula’s lawyers on Monday, the committee reaffirmed its position that under international Brazil is obliged to follow its recommendation.

Haddad served as education minister under Lula and Rousseff and was mayor of São Paulo from 2012-2016 - but he lost re-election to João Doria, a businessman and former TV host from the centre right PSDB party, on in 2016. – Guardian