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Twelve years after he left power, Lula launched his candidacy for Brazil’s presidential election on Saturday. Lacking a candidate who would make a third way viable, Lula is the only one who can beat Jair Bolsonaro in the polls, whom he distances himself from in all the polls, but who seems to do anything to maintain power.
The longtime lion of the Brazilian left, Lula, launched his candidacy for the October presidential election on Saturday, May 7, to “rebuild” the country after Jair Bolsonaro’s “irresponsible and criminal” management.
“We are all ready to work not only for victory, but also for the reconstruction and transformation of Brazil, which will be more difficult than the elections themselves,” said Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, 76, during an interview. 4,000 supporters in Sao Paulo.
Twelve years after leaving power with a stratospheric approval rate (87%), the former unionist, who still has no successor on the left, will therefore run for a third term.
The announcement of this sixth presidential candidacy was an open secret.
Lacking a candidate who would make a third way viable, Lula is the only one who can beat Jair Bolsonaro (67) in the polls, whom he distances himself from in all polls, but who seems to do anything to maintain power.
>> To read – Lula, a smiling warrior in the reconquest of Brazil
“Democracy or Totalitarianism”
“What do we want? The Brazil of democracy or authoritarianism? The choice has never been easier,” Lula shouted to the crowd that cheered him, exclaiming “Lula, warrior of the Brazilian people.”
He spoke for about fifty minutes in front of a giant screen with the Brazilian flag, a symbol that the Bolsonarists had appropriated.
“Brazil is too big to be relegated to the rank of pariah,” Lula launched, repeating multiple times that he claimed to restore “sovereignty” to the country, in the face of “the government’s irresponsible and criminal policies”.
Unlike the big gatherings of his heyday, where he showed all his aura as a grandstand, Lula, navy suit and open shirt collar, was content to read his speech, not looking at the audience much and avoiding big flights.
His relatives advised him to show a calm and reassuring face after recent derailments that sparked controversy.
In an interview with Time magazine this week, he attacked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, this “good humorist (…) who puts on a show” and is “also responsible” for the war in his country than his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
The former turner-miller also stood out for his controversial statements about abortion, the police or the middle class.
In an effort to show a holy union to defeat Jair Bolsonaro, Lula’s running mate Geraldo Alckmin, former center-right governor of Sao Paulo, said in his videoconference speech that “no difference” could prevent his “mission, the defense of democracy”.
If he doesn’t have the charisma of Lula, Geraldo Alckmin, who was defeated by the left-wing ex-president in the second round of the vote in 2006, is all about the voter from the center, the moderate right, and the corporate world.
Testing positive for Covid-19 on Friday, it was from his home, via video conference, that he took part in the campaign’s launch.
“As close as possible to the voters”
Starting next week, Lula will head off into the campaign and criss-cross the country – as presidential candidate Bolsonaro has been doing for months – starting with the state of Minas Gerais (southeast).
“If he really wants to win the election, Lula needs to take to the streets, like Bolsonaro, and be closer to the voters,” Sylvio Costa, founder of the Congresso em foco site, told AFP.
The presidential elections on October 2 and 30 will testify to the extreme polarization of the immense emerging country of 213 million inhabitants.
The former trade unionist believes his legacy – reducing inequalities, social policy, promoting education – has been “destroyed, dismantled”.
“I believe I can do more and do better than what I’ve already done,” he told Time.
This new candidacy tastes like revenge for the ex-president, whose expulsion from the race in 2018 allowed the easy election of Jair Bolsonaro.
While he was incarcerated for a year and a half for corruption until November 2019, the former metal worker’s political career seemed over. Until the Supreme Court overturned his convictions in March 2021.