Enthusiasm for Lula Candidacy Not Shared by All in His Party

(Bloomberg) -- Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s candidacy for Brazil’s presidency was launched with much pomp and circumstance on Friday -- yet again. But not everyone in his Workers’ Party wants him to run.

Jailed in April following his conviction for corruption and money-laundering, Lula remains the choice of the party’s leadership in the hope that his lead in the polls and ongoing popularity will rub off on its other candidates. Yet given he is almost certain to be barred from standing, dissidents in the PT say it would be better to switch him out right away so everyone knows how to plan their campaigns and alliances.

Some favor a quick decision to name a running mate who could take Lula’s place if he were barred. The options include former mayor of Sao Paulo, Fernando Haddad and the party president Gleisi Hoffmann. Others want to wait to switch horses until all legal options are exhausted, probably by September. A third group is pushing for an alliance with the PDT, the party of Ciro Gomes, an ex-minister of Lula’s and a former governor of Ceara.

But the predominant view in the party, including Lula’s himself, is that he be the candidate whatever happens -- even if his votes are tossed out by the electoral authorities. And that is exactly what Hoffmann told the gathering in Belo Horizonte on Friday evening. Lula will be the PT’s candidate, even if the electoral authorities reject his candidacy as they are expected to do. An appeals court earlier this year upheld his conviction and increased his prison sentence to 12 years.

Rather than seeing the bearded, charismatic former metalworker on stage at the even on Friday, the crowd only got to hear an audio recording of the 72-year-old proclaiming himself ready to run.

Despite everything, Lula remains astonishingly popular. A Datafolha opinion poll published on Sunday showed him with 30 percent of vote intentions, significantly ahead of his nearest rival, far-right congressman, Jair Bolsonaro.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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