Lula withdraws from Presidential race

The Former President of Brazil has given up his legal battle to be a contender for the forthcoming elections.

His former running mate, Fernando Haddad, will be announced as the party’s Presidential candidate.

Background

Brazil, in South America, is one of the world’s biggest democracies. From 2000 to 2012, the country’s average annual GDP grew at a rate of over 5%. In 2012, the economy surpassed that of the United Kingdom, temporarily making it sixth largest economy in the world. In 2017, it was reported to be in the midst of its worst ever recession. The growth rate is now 8% lesser than it was in December 2014. However, it still remains one of the most influential countries in the region.

Former President Lula was regarded as one of the most popular presidents in the history of Brazil. It was during his tenure that a number of economic reforms were introduced and the country had a period of sustained growth. However, his critics regarded him as a polarising figure and labelled him as opportunistic and corrupt. Lula served as president from 2003-2010 and remains by far Brazil’s most charismatic politician. But he is ineligible for office under Brazil’s “Clean Slate” law, which prohibits candidates from running if they have convictions that have been upheld on appeal.          

Analysis

Jailed former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has withdrawn from his legal battle to run in the Oct. 7 election and will allow his Workers Party to announce running mate Fernando Haddad as its candidate.

Lula had hoped that the Supreme Court would agree to an appeal for more time to switch the head of the Workers Party (PT) ticket after Brazil’s top electoral court last week banned him from running. The court then gave him 10 days to remove his name.

Two sources with knowledge of Lula’s decision said Haddad will become the official candidate with an announcement outside the Federal Police headquarters in the southern city of Curitiba. The leftist icon has been jailed since April, serving a 12-year sentence for receiving bribes. Despite appeals still pending before the Supreme Court, Lula decided it was time to pass the baton to Haddad on the deadline set by the court and not run the risk of the votes for his party’s ticket being annulled by the electoral court.

Lula’s letter anointing Haddad will be read out to supporters who have camped outside the police building for five months to protest his jailing, which they consider a plot to keep him from returning to power. Lula and Haddad huddled together on Monday afternoon in his jail room and began to draw up the letter.

Lula’s strategy has been to keep his candidacy alive for as long as possible, then work to transfer his support to Haddad, who is barely known in many parts of Brazil. A Datafolha poll conducted on Monday showed that transfer has begun. While still in the single digits, support for Haddad increased from 4 to 9%, the biggest gain among the 13 candidates running for president.

Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right politician running on a law-and-order anti-corruption platform, leads the race with 24% but is in intensive care due to a near-fatal stabbing that took place at a rally last week.

Assessment

Our assessment is that the troubled period in the Brazilian political landscape continues without a respite. The political careers and legacies of Lula and Rousseff have effectively been tarnished. The public is also unlikely to have faith in the current leadership. Given the extent of the scandal, it is highly unlikely that Lula will be the last politician to fall as a result of “Operation Car Wash.” Incumbent President Temer is also under investigation.