May 23, 2022

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Lula begins the presidential battle against Bolsonaro

Lula begins the presidential battle against Bolsonaro

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Sao Paulo (AFP) – Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will launch his “pre-candidacy” for the presidency on Saturday, which will pit him against far-right President Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil’s Oct. 2 elections, in a duel in which, at least for the time being, he is the favourite.

Twelve years after leaving power with a historic approval rating (87%), the 76-year-old icon of the Brazilian left will formalize his participation in a highly polarized election in Sao Paulo, whose campaign officially kicks off in August.

Everything indicates that the elections will descend into a difficult battle between this former mineralogist, who presided over Brazil between 2003 and 2010, and the ex-army chief who came to power in 2019, two political aggressions with completely hostile proposals.

In an interview with US Time magazine published this week, Lula said that when he left the presidency in 2010, he “didn’t plan to run again.”

But he decided to take this new step in his convulsive path when he saw that “in these 12 years” his inheritance which was created “for the benefit of the poor (…)” was destroyed.

“I only run because I can do better than before,” he said. “I’m sure I can solve (Brazil) problems.”

– Verbal incontinence –

Lula’s sixth presidential attempt – he was defeated three times prior to his first term – has been an open secret that has fueled him since he regained his political rights in April 2021. Then the Federal Supreme Court (STF) confirmed the overturning of his corruption conviction, one of which led to him imprisoning him for more than a year and a half.

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva delivers a speech during a demonstration on May 1, International Workers’ Day, in Sao Paulo NELSON ALMEIDA AFP/Files

From that moment on, while he was recording judicial victories in twenty public trials against him, he gradually returned to the center of the Brazilian and international political scene, as happened when French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed him at the Elysee at the end of 2021.

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At the time, polls predicted a comfortable victory for the old fox in Brazilian politics, and some are already in the first round: Bolsonaro’s popularity has plummeted due to his critical management of the coronavirus pandemic, soaring inflation and growing poverty.

But in recent months, the president has climbed in the polls, which now rule out a first-round victory for Lula.

More recently, the exmandatario has multiplied the errors, with clumsy statements about abortion, the middle classes – whose support is essential – or the police. At one time, he said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was “as responsible as Putin” for the war.

In a tweet, writer Paulo Coelho denounced Lula’s “verbal incontinence”.

These missteps forced the ex-president’s team to redefine its communication strategy, which has so far been unable to counter the superiority of polsonarianism in social networks.

– ‘You need to get out’ –

At Saturday’s event, Lula, co-founder of the Workers’ Party (PT), will launch a “reconstruction movement” for Brazil, along with parties and social groups with which he has formed alliances.

He will formally introduce the person who will be the vice president to the vice president, former Sao Paulo governor Geraldo Alcumen (69), who will participate via video after he tested positive for the coronavirus.

Alkmene is a moderate and non-charismatic character, but he is well appreciated by businessmen.

Lula was sentenced to prison as part of Lava Jato’s massive anti-corruption campaign. According to him, he was the victim of a political conspiracy to prevent him from running in the 2018 elections, in which he was the preferred candidate and which ended up winning Bolsonaro.

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Last week, the United Nations Human Rights Committee considered that he was not impartially tried.

But for many Brazilians, Lula and the Workers’ Party still embody corruption.

‘Anti-Lust’ mobilizes Bolsonaro voters to a large extent and is the biggest obstacle Lula must overcome in the campaign, as he will attempt to seduce the Evangelicals and Agribusiness, two pillars of Bolsonaroism.

“Lula needs to take to the streets, as Bolsonaro and other candidates do,” Silvio Costa, founder of the Congressional news website IM Foucault, told AFP.

“Some say he avoided exposing himself, because his associates fear for his safety” in light of the deeply polarized country and the precedent of Bolsonaro’s stabbing in recent elections, he adds.