In a controversial move, Brazil’s highest electoral court has blocked former President Lula Da Silva, commonly called Lula, from running for President again on the Workers Party (PT) ticket, according to Bloomberg.
The Washington Post reported that Da Silva governed the country from 2003 to 2012 and left office with an 87% approval rating. Accordingly, he was a favorite in the upcoming Brazilian election, which will be held on Oct. 7, leading in the last Poder360 poll in which he was included, by 15 percentage points.
Despite his popularity, ABC reported that Da Silva was convicted of corruption in 2017 and is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence. He, as well as hundreds of other politicians and businesspeople, was indicted in a massive corruption investigation that began five years ago.
In Da Silva’s case, prosecutors charged him for “steer[ing] contracts to [the] construction company Grupo OAS” in exchange for a $1.1 million apartment as reported by ABC. Da Silva argues that he never took possession of the apartment and therefore the action isn’t illegal, while the judge ruled that the intent was unlawful.
According to Bloomberg, Da Silva and his supporters assert that the corruption sentence and the separate six to one court decision, made on Aug. 31, striking him from the ballot amount to a right-wing coup. Da Silva’s detractors counter by stating that the investigation is about cleaning up the systemic corruption within Brazil, according to The Washington Post.
The move to block Da Silva from the election has drawn international criticism according to The Washington Post. The most vocal protest from The United States came when 29 members of the United States Congress including Bernie Sanders (I-VT) signed a letter criticising Da Silva’s exclusion from the election as well as the murder of several left-wing activists and politicians in Brazil.
Despite their loss in court, the PT says that they will continue to fight to put Lula on the ballot, but it seems increasingly likely that his running mate, Fernando Hadad, will have to replace Da Silva on the ticket, reports Bloomberg.
It is unclear whether Da Silva’s popularity will transfer to Hadad, but according to Bloomberg Hadad is ahead in the polls if Da Silva endorses him.
Whomever the PT picks, one of their primary opponents will be Jair Bolsonaro, a member of the far-right social liberal party (PSL). The Wall Street Journal reported that Bolsonaro, a former officer in the military, is running on a law and order message that may appeal to voters who are sick of the widespread violence and corruption that plagues Brazil.
In a surprising turn of events on Sept. 6, Bolsonaro was stabbed by a left-wing assailant; this injury has left him in the hospital and Bolsonaro is expected to undergo major surgery according to The Wall Street Journal.
Despite Bolsonaro’s disparaging comments towards minorities and women within Brazil, the stabbing appears to have boosted his electoral odds according to The Wall Street Journal.
Whoever wins this election, it is clear that the result will be contentious with one of the major candidates jailed and the other stabbed nearly to death.