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Brazilian electorate divided on Lula: half want him as president and the other half in jail

Friday, November 3rd 2017 - 07:08 UTC
Full article 5 comments
With a lead in all polls, Lula is campaigning across Brazil while he appeals the guilty verdict. If it's upheld, he could go to jail and be barred from running. With a lead in all polls, Lula is campaigning across Brazil while he appeals the guilty verdict. If it's upheld, he could go to jail and be barred from running.

Half of Brazilians want former President Lula da Silva to win next year's election and return to the office he occupied between 2003 and 2010. The other half wants him in prison for a corruption conviction.

 Those dueling sentiments now underscore an important question as campaigns begin gearing up ahead of the 2018 election: Will Lula da Silva, who is appealing the conviction, be allowed to run?

“Whether Lula runs or not makes all the difference in the next election,” said Carlos Melo, a political science professor at Insper University in Sao Paulo. “Even if he is jailed he won't be out of the race, as whoever he supports could be a competitive candidate.”

With a lead in all polls, Lula is campaigning across Brazil while he appeals the guilty verdict. If it's upheld, he could go to jail and be barred from running. If it's overturned, Lula da Silva is facing several other trials that could interfere with his campaign.

Despite the setbacks, Lula has seen his approval rating rise since the conviction, cementing the reality that he will likely be a force in the election one way or the other.

The chairman of a group of three magistrates has said that he expects the court to rule on da Silva's appeal before next August. The election is in October. Lula was convicted in July by Judge Sergio Moro as part of a sprawling investigation into kickbacks by construction companies and public officials. He was sentenced to 9 1/2 years in jail and barred from holding public office for seven.

But while candidates figure out how to position themselves depending on Lula's legal fate, there are also questions about whether the former president's own Workers' Party has a Plan B.

“Lula's candidacy is irreversible,” Workers' Party chairwoman Gleisi Hoffmann said. But Ciro Gomes, a former Cabinet minister in Lula's government and a presidential hopeful himself, disagrees.

“The Workers' Party will have a candidate, but it won't be Lula,” Gomes said recently at a conference in Sao Paulo. The election is Oct. 7, 2018, with a likely runoff three weeks later if none of the candidates obtain more than 50 percent of the vote.

A survey by polling firm Datafolha says Lula has 30% support for the first election round, compared to 20% for his closest rival, Congressman Jair Bolsonaro, a former army captain who speaks glowingly about the country's 1964-1985 dictatorship.

The poll also indicates Lula would beat every adversary in a runoff, except for a tie with Moro, the judge who convicted him but who has repeatedly said he will not run despite being hailed by many Brazilians as a hero.

Meanwhile, 54% of Brazilians surveyed said they want the former president in jail.

The poll was conducted Sept. 27-28 after Lula's conviction in the “Car Wash” probe. Datafolha interviewed 2,772 people and said the poll had a margin of error of 2 percentage points.

Overall, the poll said Lula has become more popular since he was found guilty. In July, Datafolha found that he was rejected by 46% of voters and would tie with former Cabinet minister Marina Silva in a runoff, compared to 42% of voters in October who said they would not back the ex-president.

Fernando Castelo Branco, law professor at Sao Paulo's PUC University, said da Silva's candidacy will be revoked if the conviction is upheld before official campaigning begins in August.“If he has already registered his candidacy, the court could still uphold the conviction or add to his penalties and in that case his candidacy could be annulled,” Branco said.

Categories: Politics, Brazil.

Top Comments

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  • Enrique Massot

    Beyond MP's exercise of “half and half,” truth is, Lula leads in the polls.

    It shows Brazilians have clearly seen what's behind the hypocrisy of the accusations, tailored to bar Da Silva while leaving in place characters such as Temer.

    The Brazilian people are to be commended and here's a wish they may enjoy again having the best president in a country where social and economic inequality was rampant for much of its history.

    Lula is to be commended for his moderation and efforts to adapt his original views to seek effective ways to reduce poverty for Brazilians.

    Just a sample from Wiki:

    “The Lula Administration's economic policies also helped to significantly raise living standards, with the percentage of Brazilians belonging to the consumerist middle class rising from 37% to 50% of the population.”

    Nov 04th, 2017 - 03:55 pm +1
  • :o))

    Maybe he can remain imprisoned and still govern the country as a President! The Brazilians are ALREADY accustomed to hearing about the Drug-Lords who remain in jail and control their empires. So why not Lula?

    In ANY case - just like the other political crooks who are already in jail; his sentence to remain behind bars will ALSO be for namesake only! So EVERYTHING is “normal” [a JOKE or a farce, exactly as the rest of the political actions]!

    Nov 03rd, 2017 - 04:00 pm 0
  • DemonTree

    It does make a difference; however easy the sentence, he won't become president if his conviction is upheld, which is surely what his rivals care about.

    More interesting would be what happens if it isn't and he is elected. Then he would presumably face the same problem as Temer as the other trials came up, and congress would have to vote on whether to let him stand trial each time.

    They might not be so keen to support Lula as Temer, but that really depends on what Lula is willing to offer them, doesn't it?

    Nov 03rd, 2017 - 09:51 pm 0
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