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Montevideo, September 24th 2018 - 18:13 UTC

Brazilian public opinion remains deeply divided on Lula: strong support but also highest rejection rate

Friday, May 12th 2017 - 09:15 UTC
Full article 55 comments
In recent polling, Lula sits atop surveys of potential candidates for the 2018 election but he also has the highest rejection rate, showing strong opposition In recent polling, Lula sits atop surveys of potential candidates for the 2018 election but he also has the highest rejection rate, showing strong opposition
Judge Moro deployed calm, persistent questioning to prevent the ex-president from using his oratory skills to piece together a convincing, coherent explanation Judge Moro deployed calm, persistent questioning to prevent the ex-president from using his oratory skills to piece together a convincing, coherent explanation
Moro consistently interrupted to rein in Lula when his testimony veered toward what the judge labeled political stumping. Moro consistently interrupted to rein in Lula when his testimony veered toward what the judge labeled political stumping.

Ex Brazilian President Lula da Silva's combative testimony before a federal judge this week did little to dismantle the graft case against him and improve his chances of securing a new term in office. Lula, a founder of the leftist Workers Party (PT) that controlled Brazil's presidency from 2003 until last year, can only run in next year's presidential election if he avoids a conviction that is upheld on appeal.

 Steady questioning by crusading Judge Sergio Moro on Wednesday uncovered no bombshell revelations to shake supporters' steadfast belief that Lula is innocent and the victim of a political witch hunt. Nor did it do much to knock down corruption charges that stand between Lula and a third shot at the presidency.

“Lula left the courtroom the same size as he went in. His testimony will not legally save the former president,” said the centrist Green Party congressman Alvaro Dias. “But politically, there was a repercussion that both fuels the PT's followers and enrages his opponents, as he tried to transform a legal procedure into a political show.”

In recent polling, Lula sits atop surveys of potential candidates for the 2018 election but he also has the highest rejection rate, showing strong opposition to him among many Brazilians.

Lula's case is part of an investigation known as “Operation Car Wash” which unearthed how Brazilian construction firms paid billions in political kickbacks and bribes in return for contracts at state-run oil company Petrobras and other government-controlled companies.

The investigation has seen more than 90 prominent businessmen and politicians convicted. Scores of sitting federal congressmen across the political spectrum as well as one-third of conservative President Michel Temer's cabinet are being investigated.

Prosecutors allege Lula was given a beach apartment by construction firm OAS in exchange for helping it win lucrative government contracts.

Lula portrayed himself during his testimony as a victim of a vengeful, elitist media that wanted to get him “dead or alive.” He also said Brazil's upper class could not stomach his social welfare programs that helped lift millions out of poverty during his eight years in office. Still beloved by many working class Brazilians, Lula stepped down in 2011 with an 83% approval rating.

Judge Moro deployed calm, persistent questioning to prevent the ex-president from using his oratory skills to piece together a convincing, coherent explanation of the accusations against him. Moro consistently interrupted to rein in Lula when his testimony veered toward what the judge labeled political stumping.

“If Lula's supporters hoped to turn May 10, 2017, into a landmark in his quest to return to the presidential palace, the repeated doubts in his testimony and the lack of an overwhelming street demonstration by supporters clouded that ambition,” wrote Igor Gielow, a political analyst for the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper, Brazil's largest.

The uncertainty of Lula's fate as he faces five corruption trials, and the political polarization that has encompassed Brazil, demonstrate how the country's institutions have matured, said Carlos Pereira, a professor of public administration at the Getulio Vargas Foundation.

“It's a historic moment that a Brazilian president is on trial at all, it shows the degree to which our system of checks and balances has strengthened,” he said.

Pereira noted that corruption has been endemic in Brazil for hundreds of years and leaders had acted with impunity until recently. But the autonomy given to investigators and courts in the 1988 constitution as the nation emerged from dictatorship paved the way to end that.

“Politicians held great sway over the judicial system, but now they are under its thumb. That is a new twist in Brazil,” he said. “It is amazing, ironic and astonishing for an emerging democracy”.

Categories: Politics, Brazil.

Top Comments

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  • :o))

    The Bottom-Line is that NONE of the politicians - unitedly - are truly interested in the success of the Operation Car-Wash &/OR of any other “operation”.

    Hence ALL the investigations will have the minimum necessary cooperation and the Maximum Possible Resistance from ALL the politicians + all the political parties. In other words; the Total Support to Lula is directly/indirectly guaranteed by ALL of “them”.

    As [almost?] ALL [!] of them ARE involved in corruption - in one way or the other and at one stage or another - their ONLY chance of Safety & Escape is the innocence of Lula; which will eventually - AUTOMATICALLY - abandon ALL the Investigations/Operations; WHEN [& not “IF”] Lula returns back to power.

    No matter how distant their individual differences are right now; they can forget the animosity for a time being to have a United Brotherhood [of crooks] to ensure the Total Helplessness AND a Total Failure of the Entire Judicial System. In short, very soon, “they” will be Back in Business and Brazil will be “NORMAL” as before.

    May 12th, 2017 - 11:32 am +2
  • Kanye

    How typical of Enrique.

    Brand your enemies as “ultra-wealthy”.

    At the very crux of this - Lula was made wealthy himself by pandering to other wealthy people.

    Then Enrique goes on to trivialize gross corruption and accepting huge bribes as “not paying for all his photocopies” while in office.

    Enrique is emblematic of the corruption problem in SA - it's ok if he's 'my' crook.

    May 12th, 2017 - 02:15 pm +1
  • Jack Bauer

    Reekie,
    you lost a good chance to keep your mouth shut. Your defence of the toad proves you are an ignorant leftist who is not interested in the proof against Lula....and when I say proof, I'm not talking about the evidence collected during the hearings of the ex-politicians, ex-PB directors, Odebrecht and OAS executives, and the PT's marketeers (during the last three presidential campaigns), but bank statements, e-mails, notes, notarized documents found during searches of various premisses by the Federal Police...the plea-bargains only furnished information which made it easier to know where to look...you idiots, like the toad, will keep on denying the charges, despite the proof, long after “Nine” is sent to prison...
    At least pretend you are well informed and stop showing off your ignorance.

    May 12th, 2017 - 07:49 pm +1
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