Former Brazilian Presidents Fernando Henrique Cardoso (FHC) (1995-2002) and Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva (2003-2010) Friday shocked the country's political arena by holding a key meeting during which they agreed to support the latter in next year's elections against the incumbent Jair Bolsonaro.
Lula and FHC were known to be rivals in the past but seem to have found a common enemy that brought them together – Bolsonaro, who deemed their encounter as the meeting of old politics. According to recent polls, Lula, of the Workers' Party (PT), is poised to defeat Bolsonaro in 2022.
The picture of the two former presidents together -who had last met at the funeral of Lula's wife Marisa Leticia Rocco in 2017- wearing masks, went viral and further paid for the expansion of support for Lula, which Bolsonaro downplayed saying that a president thief and a blackmail as a vice, the presidential ticket is already created.
“The plague of Communism did not succeed anywhere. and it will not be successful in Brazil, Bolsonaro warned
The former presidents had a long talk about Brazil, our democracy and the abandonment of the Bolsonaro government in the face of the pandemic,” Lula posted on social media.
The meeting took place after messages of rapprochement from Cardoso, from the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB), who said that he would vote for Lula in 2022 in case he reaches a runoff against Bolsonaro. The two directly faced each other in 1994 and 1998, when Cardoso won the first-round elections both times.
I already voted for Lula, recalled FHC, who admitted it was in 1990 when Lula lost the runoff to Fernando Collor de Mello.
The meeting between the two was brokered by former Supreme Court Justice Nelson Jobim, who was Minister under both Cardoso (Justice) and Lula (Defense). The meeting was also regarded as a message of isolation to presidential hopeful Ciro Gomes of the Democratic Labor Party, who was also a minister under both leaders.
In an attempt to make a name for himself, Gomes has coined the term Bolsolulism, meaning there is not much difference between the far left and the far-right politicians.
Tensions between FHC and Lula arose after the PT denounced the neoliberal legacy of the Cardoso administration.
In the 2014 elections, with Operation Lava Jato at full steam, The PSDB's candidate Aecio Neves was edged by Lula's dauphin Dilma Rousseff. Neves was the first presidential candidate in recent Brazilian history to not admit defeat and to denounce fraud. Part of the Brazilian destabilization is attributed to that wing of the PSDB. In 2016, the PSDB financed the legal team behind Rousseff's impeachment in alliance with then-Vice President Michel Temer who eventually became President. And such an alliance is believed to still be active in some districts, such as the city of São Paulo.
After being cleared of criminal charges against him, due to which he regained his political rights, Lula has made a full comeback to the political arena and is the favourite to defeat Bolsonaro in October 2022: 41% against 23% in the first and 55% against 32% in the ballot, according to pollsters Datafolha.
Cardoso and Lula have a common history since the 1970s, when the sociologist FHC, after his exile due to the military dictatorship, began to be one of the intellectuals who became interested in the union struggle in the factories of Greater São Paulo. Friday's meeting is part of the national dialogue that Lula has undertaken to summon the support of a large part of the political arc that does not belong to the left, the key to governability in a Congress that is the most conservative of recent democratic history.
Bolsonaro has in the past few days been campaigning for the suppression of the electronic voting machines used in the past, which he claims are unreliable and though which he fears Lula could beat him by fraudulent means. With the PSDB now an ally of Bolsonaro in several states and especially in the discourse of criminalization of the PT, Friday's meeting certainly looks like a possible game-changer.