Lula May Appoint His Replacement in Brazil’s Presidential Race, Lawmaker Says

(Bloomberg) -- Brazil’s former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is likely to appoint another candidate for the October presidential election should he be barred from running, a lawmaker from his Workers’ Party said in an interview.

Lula will be officially registered as candidate on August 15 and his party will keep pushing in the courts for his release from jail, lower house deputy Wadih Damous said on Wednesday. But the former president, who is serving a 12-year sentence for corruption, will likely adopt a new strategy if electoral authorities reject his presidential bid.

“President Lula was never a man inclined to radical ruptures, he was always a negotiator,” Damous said. “From what I know of President Lula, he is likely to indicate another name” if efforts to release him fail.

Lula leads opinion polls for the presidential race but probably won’t be allowed to run as the Brazilian law bars candidacies of those convicted by an appeals court. Without him, Brazil’s top job is up for grabs among a handful of candidates in what is already considered one of the most unpredictable elections since the country’s return to democracy.

Since Lula’s imprisonment in April, his lawyers and allies have requested he stays free until all of his appeals run their course in the Supreme Court -- a process that could take years. One of those requests, signed by Damous, found a sympathetic judge who ordered Lula’s release on Sunday. His decision was eventually overturned after a legal battle, but increased hopes among allies that the former president could leave jail in time for the election.

Until Sunday Lula’s freedom was “inconceivable” but now it seems within reach, said Damous, who’s also a lawyer. The former president’s defense will take new steps in the next few days, he added. “We are going to keep insisting until it becomes clear that the judiciary has thrown the constitution in the rubbish bin.”

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