Brazilian Judge Who Arrested Lula May Face Him at the Polls
(Bloomberg) -- Sergio Moro, the former judge famous in Brazil for helming the Carwash corruption investigation that landed members of the country’s elite in jail, has officially stepped into the political arena, joining the Podemos party one year before the presidential election.
“The country is on the wrong path,” Moro said in a speech Wednesday morning in Brasilia. He talked about the high level of unemployment, how the fight against corruption lost steam, as well as rising consumer prices and interest rates.
Although not a candidate yet, news of Moro’s political affiliation starts to lay the groundwork for an operatic twist to the 2022 Brazilian election: that the same judge who sent ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to prison could years later face him at the polls.
“If it is necessary to take the lead in this project, my name will always be available to the Brazilian people,” Moro told a crowded auditorium adorned with “A Fair Brazil” banners. “I will not run away from this fight, although I know it will be difficult.”
If he runs, Moro, 49, would also face President Jair Bolsonaro, under whose administration he served as justice minister. He quit his post in April 2020, alleging that Bolsonaro had interfered with federal police investigations in order to protect family members.
Moro’s focus is likely to be voters looking for a middle ground between leftist Lula and right-wing Bolsonaro, a hotly-contested political space nicknamed the “third way.” Nearly a dozen people are already jockeying for the centrist vote, including the governors of Sao Paulo, Joao Doria, and Rio Grande do Sul, Eduardo Leite.
Former health minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta, another member of the administration who parted ways with the president on bad terms, is also trying to become a viable centrist candidate. He participated in this morning’s ceremony, posing for pictures with Moro.
Mandetta said that “third way” parties will have to decide who will be the best candidate, so that they can rally the forces behind a moderate competitor as one single candidacy. “The spirit is not to fragment, not to pulverize candidacies,” he told reporters.
In prospective election polls, Moro is seen winning less than 10% of the vote, with Lula leading all other candidates so far.
The former judge is viewed by many Brazilians as the country’s star corruption fighter, and he may inherit disillusioned Bolsonaro voters. But his record is not sterling: this year the Supreme Court ruled that he had been biased in the proceedings against Lula, who in 2019 was released from jail on appeal.
In his speech, Moro highlighted the fight against corruption and criticized the administrations of both Lula and Bolsonaro.
He broadly covered themes such as the economy, the environment and diversity. He defended a tax reform, the privatization of state-owned companies and the search for external markets. Without going into details, he named poverty eradication as a priority he intended to tackle through a task force.
“Our sense of community prevents us from adopting a blind capitalism, without solidarity or compassion,” said Moro. Inserting religion into his speech, he added, “Our sense of justice, our Christian values that are shared by other religions, demand that the great economic inequalities be overcome.”
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