Brazilian court bars former president Lula from upcoming presidential election

World Today

BRAZIL-POLITICS/LULA DA SILVAFormer Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks during a rally in Curitiba, Brazil, March 28, 2018. (Rodolfo Buhrer/VCG)

Brazil’s main leftist party said former President Lula da Silva will remain its candidate in next month’s presidential election, despite the electoral court barring him from running. Lula has been leading opinion polls, even while serving a prison sentence since April for corruption and money laundering.

CGTN’s Paulo Cabral reports.

For the time being, Lula da Silva is no longer running for president. Or at least according to Brazil’s government.

During a marathon session on Friday – and into the early hours of Saturday – Brazil’s Superior Election Court annulled the candidacy of the former president, citing the “Clean Record Act.” This law prevents politicians convicted of crimes from running for office.

The Workers’ Party still can appeal to the Supreme Court, but legal experts here consider the party’s chances of success slim to none.

“The Supreme Court has already decided on this matter before, so this is something very unlikely to change,” according to Silvio Salata, president of the Elections Law Commits of Brazil’s Bar Association. “Even if in my opinion this does violate our Constitution in regard to the presumption of innocence until all appeals are exhausted.”

The party has already announced a “Plan B” candidate – Fernando Haddad – if Lula can’t run. The 55-year-old former mayor of Sao Paulo served as Lula’s education minister, and is portrayed in the media as a moderate, modern and untainted by corruption representative of the Worker’s Party.


Fernando Haddad, presumed to be former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s replacement candidate in the presidential elections, speaks to the press after visiting his mentor in prison at the Federal Police headquarters in Curitiba, in southern Brazil, on September 3, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / Heuler Andrey)

Haddad is well-known here in Sao Paulo, but he’s not considered a national figure with enough support to win a presidential election on his own. Brazilian analysts said his only chance of victory depends on Lula’s ability to transfer his votes to another candidate. Not only does Lula lead in the polls, he is extending his lead-despite his conviction and arrest.

“Lula is a trade union leader who came from a poor-northeastern state, a person who struggled a lot to get where he is,” political scientists Jose Alvaro Moises explained. “Fernando Haddad is a middle class academic. So the notion that there will be an automatic transfer of votes is wishful thinking. But of course, it could happen: the Workers Party is an important party, very well rooted in the population.”

 The Workers’ Party has until September 11th to officially present another candidate.